• Richard Cree

And Relax….

Sunday 14th June 2020

Figures for 13th June

UK COVID Deaths 181 / Total 41,662

James Cook Hospital – Total COVID deaths – 248

All COVID cases within South Tees Hospitals Trust – 19

James Cook Critical Care COVID cases – 1 / 1 ventilated

James Cook Critical Care non-COVID cases – 36 / 21 ventilated

Nicky and I have been on-call over the past few nights. The numbers of our COVID-19 patients continue to gradually fall and we now only have one COVID-19 patient within Critical Care.

For the past few weeks we have been aware that other hospitals in the Northern region have being seeing fewer COVID patients than we have. Prior to the weekend there were only two such ventilated patients in and around the Newcastle area, whereas Teesside and its surrounding hospitals had five. There have been a number of regional hospitals who haven’t admitted a COVID-positive patient into their ICU for a few weeks. It seems it's finally our turn to take it a bit easier.

We have moved our single COVID patient into an isolation room on one of the regular units and have set about restoring the last COVID ICU back into a regular ICU. This involves emptying it of patients and staff, deep cleaning everything within it and hydrogen peroxide ‘fogging’ it before admitting new, non-COVID patients.

Once this has happened we will be very close to our original Critical Care ‘footprint’ – i.e. how things were back in mid-March before the pandemic hit us. We still have one patient on the Cardiac ICU but they are due to return to the fold any day now and we will be utilising the Paediatric ICU until the middle of next week.

I don’t think any of us thought that we would be near this position just a month ago and we are all very pleased that the workload continues to decrease. All of the staff are tired and the respite that the decline in cases has brought is most welcome. A lot of us need to spend some more time with our families and rest and recuperate.

That’s not to say that we are all breathing a collective sigh of relief and expecting things to remain quiet. We realise that an increase in COVID workload is likely but we are hoping that it will be more manageable than before. Contingency plans remain for us to re-expand our bed base once more should the need arise and having done it once, it will be quicker and easier a second time around.

I realise that the way I’m writing might give the impression that we are all taking it easy. It’s worth remembering that we are still left with the day-to-day Intensive Care workload which is usually busy enough, thank you very much. I guess it’s all relative though. It doubtless won’t be long before we’re back to complaining about the lack of beds and the numbers of ‘regular’ ICU patients that we’re seeing, but for now, we can all relax a little.

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