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  • Richard Cree

What a Difference a Day Makes

Updated: May 18

Sunday 17th May 2020

Figures for 16th May

UK COVID Deaths 468 / Total 34,466

James Cook Hospital – Total COVID deaths – 216

All COVID cases within South Tees Hospitals Trust – 59

James Cook Critical Care COVID cases – 11 (6 ventilated)

James Cook Critical Care non-COVID cases – 32 (13 ventilated)

I wanted to share with you some good news that our Trust published earlier in the week. Over the last two months, the Trust has successfully treated a large number of COVID patients. The peak number of cases the Trust was caring for at any one time was 150, more than double the current number. As of a few days ago thanks to the work of all the staff throughout the hospital, a grand total of 500 patients have survived and recovered to return home.

Once again, I was on-call for emergency cases but today was a marked contrast with yesterday. I arrived to find that we were admitting a gentleman with refractory epilepsy. Despite initial treatment, he was continuing to have regular seizures and so we sedated and ventilated him before arranging a CT brain scan to begin to look for a reason as to why this was happening. When standard anti-epileptic drugs are not working, the anaesthetic drugs we use in the ICU to sedate patients will also prevent seizures. They will stop nearly any patient from having further fits. The downside is that you have to be ventilated for a period of time so they are often a treatment of last resort. The brain CT scan was unremarkable and so we admitted the patient to one of our non-COVID ICU’s for further investigations.

I met up with the Outreach team to discuss the sick patients on the wards. These patients currently do not require admission to Critical Care but need a close eye kept on them and some help from us to ensure they stay that way.

To my surprise, the many patients that we were referred yesterday all appear to be better or are certainly no worse than when I left them. After all my colleagues had finished their ward rounds, we arranged to meet up for a quick bed meeting.

Yesterday, I heard that the Queen Vic pub was doing Sunday Lunch deliveries with a generous NHS discount. In a moment of optimism I ordered a Sunday Lunch delivery for A-Team for the next day. Now, if there’s one way to guarantee that you are swamped with emergencies, it’s to order food and arrange to meet up with colleagues at lunchtime. However, today the food delivery coincided beautifully with a quiet spell and we were able to turn our bed meeting into a pretty pleasant lunch.

To my surprise the rest of the day remained calm as well. I had resisted the temptation to drop the Bat-Phone down the nearest toilet but it mercifully remained silent for most of the time. In fact the only notable call was from one of the admin staff to let me know that she had discovered a large amount of salted caramel ice-cream in the ICU freezer that needed eating up. I was happy to help. Anything for the team.

I was also able to catch up on the progress of a few patients that I hadn’t seen in a little while and answer a few emails. The rest of the day passed relatively peacefully.

Just before I left I discovered an email from the Trust’s Head of IT who had been reading the blog and heard about yesterday’s telephone woes. She has very kindly offered to replace the ailing Bat-Phone with a shiny new iPhone. Who says incessantly moaning and whinging doesn’t pay-off?

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