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  • Richard Cree

Loss & Gain

Updated: Jun 11

Wednesday 10th June 2020

Figures for 9th June

UK COVID Deaths 286 / Total 40,883

James Cook Hospital – Total COVID deaths – 246

All COVID cases within South Tees Hospitals Trust – 23

James Cook Critical Care COVID cases – 3 / 2 ventilated

James Cook Critical Care non-COVID cases – 38 / 21 ventilated

Today was the day of Mark Lowe’s funeral. Mark was one of our radiology porters who died recently after contracting COVID-19. He had been one of our ICU patients and his death has been upsetting for everyone who knew him or looked after him. His funeral cortege filed past the hospital this morning and there was an impressive turnout of staff, all of whom wished to pay their last respects. Hundreds of people lined the hospital perimeter road and applauded as the procession drove past. There was also a minute’s silence held at 1100 in order that any staff who were unable to be present earlier could pay their respects.

I was back working on the same non-COVID ICU as yesterday. The patients under my care today all were moving in the right direction and over the course of the day we were able to discharge three of them to the ward.

At lunchtime, we held a small retirement party for Jane, one of our longest–serving nurses. I say party, but after Janet socially-distanced the coffee room yesterday, it was more of a genteel gathering. There was food and a cracking cake and it was a really pleasant way to spend lunch-time. There hasn’t been a great deal of time available lately for more than a few of us to get together at the same time, so this was a welcome change. Jane started work in 1984 at Wharfedale General Hospital and moved to the old, beloved Middlesbrough General two years later. From the time when I first met her as a registrar, many years ago, Jane has always been part of South Tees ICU and all of us are very sad to see her go.

In the afternoon, we admitted a couple of patients from A&E and the ward. The first was a lady who was having recurrent epileptic seizures and the second was a lady with septicaemia on a background of liver cirrhosis. One of the unwritten rules of Intensive Care Medicine anywhere is that as soon as you create an empty bed, someone will invariably become unwell and fill it. This afternoon was no exception. However, we were will still one bed up by the time I left so we couldn’t complain.

As I was leaving this evening, one of my consultant colleagues stopped me to let me know that one of our patients from the COVID ICU was being discharged to the ward. She and I, along with the nurses and healthcare assistants who were on their break went around to the ICU rear entrance in order to applaud the patient as she left. I have written before about how we have learnt to celebrate moments of success like this. The patient is a care-home worker in her 50’s who became dreadfully ill with COVID pneumonitis at the very beginning of April. She has been with us all this time and her path to recovery has been far from straightforward. However, she has finally recovered to the point where she is ready for the ward.

Whilst she still has significant problems, there is no denying that it was a pleasure to see her looking so well today, smiling and thanking everyone as she left the unit.

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