The year 2021 marked another milestone in the proven success story of vaccines for humanity: in record time, the vaccine against COVID-19 was developed and applied to more than 4.4 billion people worldwide. In Pequeno Príncipe, the advance of vaccination settled the nerves of the teams that were on the front lines of combating the virus. The pandemic also financially impacted the institution, which also suffered from the return of inflation. It was another difficult year, in which the traditional deficit caused by the underfunding of the health sector was added to the issues brought about by the continuity of the pandemic. Even with the increase in the annual deficit by about 70% compared to historical averages – which reached US$ 10.4 million –, the institution maintained its commitment to health and guaranteeing the rights of children and adolescents. In high complexity, it performed 284 transplants, a hitherto unheard-of mark. Telemedicine has advanced, with the implementation of the Telehealth Service. With care that extends beyond health, teaching and research, the Hospital has advanced in its sustainability practices, with emphasis on the compensation of all greenhouse gases it emits. Also, Pequeno Príncipe was recognized as one of the best pediatric hospitals in the world by the ranking of the American magazine Newsweek.
At the Pequeno Príncipe Hospital, 2021 was the year of resumption of surgeries and elective consultations, although the numbers of assistances were still below historical averages. With regard to COVID-19, there were 1,295 confirmed cases, an increase of more than 300% compared to the first year of the pandemic. Among the institution’s outstanding initiatives in this scenario is the creation of an exclusive cardiology outpatient clinic for the care of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2. The number of infected employees also grew; however, with the advancement of vaccination, the registered cases were mild and decreased considerably in the second half of the year. Among the care practices, the 284 transplants performed stand out, a historic mark for the institution; as well as the implantation of ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation therapy); the opening of the Computerized Gait Laboratory; and the advancement of telemedicine with the beginning of the Telehealth Service.
The Pelé Pequeno Príncipe Research Institute celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2021. With 17 main researchers, the year was extremely productive. Among the 96 ongoing projects in the seven lines of research maintained by the institution, 13 studies related to COVID-19 stand out. During the year, the researchers published 87 articles. Cooperation with national and foreign institutions was strengthened. As a result, the Institute benefited from findings obtained by research partners in Brazil and abroad, mainly in projects related to coronavirus and pediatric cancer.
After adapting to remote teaching in the first year of the pandemic, migrating its main activities to the online environment, Pequeno Príncipe College made 2021 the year of reinventing face-to-face teaching. Two courses had excellent performance in national quality indicators. In the 2021 Progress Assessment, carried out by the Brazilian Association of Medical Education (Abem, abbreviation in Portuguese), medical students from all periods had scores above the national averages and those of the Southern Region. The Nursing course, on the other hand, achieved the maximum mark in the renewal of recognition from the federal government, according to an ordinance of the Ministry of Education. Another highlight of the year was the opening of Block 6, which will house, among several other units, the Multiprofessional Outpatient Clinic, designed to develop the professional and collaborative skills of students from all programs.
The challenges faced in 2021 were overcome by Pequeno Príncipe with the support of society. Despite the crisis in Brazil and the world, companies, individuals, organizations, congressmen, the Judiciary, the Attorney General Office and the Legislative Power, in the three spheres of government, continued to support the institution. Along with that, new supporters came: 21% of companies and 33% of individuals who donated through the Childhood and Adolescence Fund (FIA) made their first investment in 2021. The numbers show the great confidence in the Hospital’s work. One of the highlights of the year was the holding of the Pequeno Príncipe Gala, which, for the second year in a row, took place online, due to the pandemic.