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  • Writer's pictureRichard Cree

100 Days

Updated: Jun 21, 2021

17th March 2021

UK COVID Deaths – Daily 141 / 7-Day average 121

Total UK COVID Deaths within 28 days – 125,831

Total UK Deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate – 146,487 (up to 5th Mar)

James Cook Hospital – Total COVID deaths – 603

All COVID cases within South Tees Hospitals Trust – 55

James Cook Critical Care

COVID cases – 10 (8 ventilated)

Non-COVID cases – 43 (26 ventilated)

It has been 100 days since the first UK patient received a COVID vaccine. Margaret Keenan was also the first patient in the world to be vaccinated as part of a mass COVID vaccination programme. Since then 25 million people in the UK have been vaccinated. Our population stands at nearly 69 million people, meaning that over 36% of people in the country have now received a first dose of the vaccine. This is a truly staggering achievement and one to celebrate. Go NHS!

Despite a warning today that the supply of vaccines may be a bit rocky over the next month, the NHS is still on course to vaccinate all those over the age of 50 by mid-April. Patients in their 50’s make up a significant proportion of our ventilated COVID patients and so this should ultimately mean far fewer admissions to ICU.

At the hospital things are getting better all the time. We are now admitting less than a handful of COVID patients every day and this has inevitably led to fewer patients needing CPAP and ventilation. The increase in non-COVID patients that we have been seeing also appears to have levelled off and we are hoping to close another of our surge ICUs any day now.

In order to make this more likely, we transferred two COVID patients to other hospitals today. A lot of nearby hospitals have managed to close all their surge units and are already back within their normal ICU footprint and have empty beds. Sadly, it may still be a while longer before we can achieve this milestone and we shall have to remain jealous of our neighbours for a little longer.

It’s only now that things are quietening down a little that Nicky and I are beginning to realise how very, very tired we both are. To be honest, the fatigue feels more mental than physical and the best word that sums it up is ‘weariness’. Of course, it’s not just us, you can see the same thing in all the ICU staff and I am a little worried that, even with the situation improving, the next few months may be tougher than everyone is expecting.

However, despite all being knackered, we were able to take some time out to celebrate Val’s retirement last week. Val is one of our longest serving nurses and has been working in the NHS for the past 48 years. She is one of an increasingly small number of nurses who spent their formative years at the old Middlesbrough General Hospital. Life was a lot more fun back then; the Intensive Care Unit was right next to A&E and was housed in a run-down building that was a little smaller than a shoebox. It was a cracking little ICU and I remember my time working there with Val very fondly. Life was simpler back then and I remember that staff could nip out the back door to sit in some makeshift deck-chairs for some sunshine and a smoke, or whenever they needed to escape the wrath of Dr Riddle.

The whole atmosphere was a little bit like being in a Carry-On Movie to be honest, and all the better for it. There was a smaller, low-tech, vintage feel to the place and many of us were upset when it was time to move across town to the current South Tees site in 2003. Shortly afterwards, the hospital was pulled down and a housing estate sprang up in its place. Instead of the ICU you can now find a smart, soulless starter-home. In fact there’s a good chance that someone’s living room is built on top of where the ICU Sluice Room used to be. I wonder if the current residents experience strange, ghostly bed-pan smells whilst settling down to watch Netflix on a Friday night? Perhaps they are haunted by the ghosts of enema’s past?

It’s not as if Val needs to justify why she’s leaving but she is keen to stress that she is going before she gets far too old and tired. Now, more than ever, there are so many of us who understand exactly what she means.

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