Sick children get new ‘dream room’ paediatric ward at Steve Biko Academic Hospital

Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko and paediatric cardiologist, Dr Jayneel Joshi, during the unveiling of the renovated paediatric ward at Steve Biko Academic Hospital. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria – Sick children at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria can now breathe a sigh of relief after a new paediatric ward was donated yesterday.

The state-of-the-art ward, dubbed the “dream room”, is equipped with reading books, toys that include PlayStations and a virtual reality system to distract the children from the the pain and agony they are going through.

The ward that was renovated and turned into the dream room was donated by non-profit organisation Reach for a Dream in partnership with network carrier Cell C.

Speaking at a special handover event that was attended by Gauteng Health and Wellness MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, in the hospital’s paediatric wing, Reach for a Dream Foundation CEO Julia Sotirianakos said the room was an oasis where children could be children.

“These children are undergoing a lot of hospital treatments…so this is a distraction away from the pain and agony and medical treatments.

“We have renovated the entire ward as well as provided children with virtual reality sets which will help distract them from the cardiac conditions they are experiencing,” Sotirianakos said.

She said the organisation started building dream rooms from 2018 and there are 35 more like the one at the Pretoria hospital across the country.

Three other provinces that have benefited from the project include the Western and Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

In Gauteng, Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital, Charlotte Maxeke hospital and George Mukhari hospital also have one dream room each.

Nkomo-Ralehoko, who officially handed over the ward to the hospital, said the objective of the initiative was to create an environment that was safe, uplifting, and stimulating for children, especially during their prolonged stays in the hospital.

“The outcome is a space where children can feel at ease, cared for, and most importantly, remain children despite their health challenges.

“Our collective vision was to create an environment that serves not just as a ward but as a safe haven, an uplifting and stimulating place for our young patients to reside during their hospital stay.

“The renovation of this ward is more than just a physical transformation. It is an upliftment of spirits, an enhancement of patient care, and a true representation of the dreams we all hold for these brave children,” she said.

She said the renovations marked a significant milestone that was meant to serve as a symbol of the government’s commitment to the children.

“It stands as a beacon of hope, not just for the children and their families, but for all of us in this hospital. It reminds us of our mission: to bring healing, comfort, and joy into the lives of our patients, to help them dream, and to help make those dreams come true,” she said.