Jigsaw hospital’s unique response to COVID-19 – We flattened our curve

On a personal level…

Boris Johnson speaks to the public to inform them of the approaching corona virus pandemic and serious attempts are made to warn the people of its potentially devastating effects. 

Somehow it doesn’t seem real, but still I listen to the warnings and heed the advice. I act quickly and work to shield the people in my life who are identified as vulnerable, weeks before it was subtly enforced (in fact, at a point when there was still loo roll on the supermarket shelves!).

On a professional level…

I went to work and observed the shift changes. We were using an agency to cover enhanced observations; there were multidisciplinary meetings, CPA’s and Tribunals still being arranged and fully attended. I felt uneasy. I started to get a sense of being inadequate, that I wasn’t quite doing enough. My own family were already locked down and I knew the whole thing needed to stop – and stop fast. 

So we did it. And it stopped.

I started to observe staff and their insecurities. What if someone gets it here? How will we keep our families safe? Of course, all the advised procedures were in place, but as a management team we started to have individual conversations. One such conversation started with the question “what if you didn’t have to go home?”

We shielded effectively, protected life - and for this I will be eternally grateful.

I began to draw the ‘flatten the curve diagram’ everywhere, on notice boards, on pieces of paper, and it became the real focus of the support I was giving to people. I saw how the government was attempting to flatten the curve; they were shielding the vulnerable, not only to protect them, but also to reduce the pressure on the NHS. 

I counted how many patients we had and how many empty rooms. I started to ask staff who they had at home, whether they would stay here if asked to…

I also watched every shift changeover, every 12 hours or so, and realised that we exposed our patients – those needing the essential shielding we were providing – to a completely new team, increasing the potential for infection. It continued to trouble me.

Another service within our group reported signs of infection and this crystallised my idea. I quickly pulled together a group of staff and asked if they were prepared to shield our vulnerable patients in the way that people were being shielded at home. I am very proud to say that there was very little hesitation. Within a day we had a full rota and a service specification, with a Team 1 and a Team 2 ready to work a week on and a week off. 

The very next day, the first team arrived to ‘live-in’ and effectively shield our identified group. This made me so incredibly proud and prompted me to speak up and say, “If anything happens to anyone, I am satisfied that none of us could have done any more for the people who live and work in our hospital.”

The removal and shielding of the vulnerable group worked to protect everyone else as this identified group were significantly more likely to catch the disease. Each ward now had the correct and appropriate level of security to protect against COVID-19.

Additionally, the leadership team of the hospital dispersed to reduce the potential impact of having everyone become unwell at the same time. Their cooperation with this unusual request was both admirable and immense.

We’re now in a good place.

At the time of writing this short account, we are in week 4 of ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’. 

20 of our 50 staff members have been symptomatic and are now returning to work. We have one patient recovering in hospital with four days of their isolation period remaining and no further cases.

By being innovative, brave and prepared to go above and beyond; by taking the government’s advice and being creative with how the wider model could be adapted to fit a small, independent hospital (on a relatively tiny scale) – we flattened our own curve. 

We shielded effectively, protected life – and for this I will be eternally grateful.

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