GWH prepares for the COVID-19 peak: restricted visits, free parking, staff support & great support from the local community
There have been major changes at GWH as preparations build to meet the expected peak of COVID-19 cases - and NHS staff are getting some good support from the Swindon community.
All non-essential appointments and other routine activity has been cancelled since Tuesday (March 24). You can find details here.
To help stop the spread of coronavirus, Great Western Hospital has had to put restrictions on visits to patients on their wards. Visitors will be restricted to one per patient and they should be 'essential visitors only'.
These visitors should be parents of children on the wards, a patient's main carer or named birthing partner. Compassionate visits - again by one visitor - can be allowed after checking with the ward first.
The notice ends: 'Please do not attend hospital with more than one visitor at any time. We thank you for your support at this time.'
Over a week ago, GWH made parking free for all staff, and last week they raised the car park barriers making parking free for everyone - well before the Government responded to a 400,000 strong petition and made parking free for staff across the NHS in England.
GWH and especially the staff are having great support from the local community and businesses in and around Swindon.
The BMW Mini plant in Swindon sent GWH extra supplies of personal protection equipment. The James Dyson Foundation provided 30 laptops to help essential admin staff work from home. One day Sainsbury's sent ready meals and the next day staff got free pizzas from Dominos.
A new bike shop in Old Town is offering free repairs to NHS staff. The Swindon cash and carry warehouse Batleys has helped provide care bundles for staff. Any offers of help of this kind should go through GWH's fundraising charity Brighter Futures.
The hospital has 24/7 mental health support for staff. It has a number of hotel rooms available for staff who normally travel some distance to work.
A new room in the hospital had to be found for this week's delivery of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). From there boxes were taken to departments by the Materials Management Team with the help of volunteers from the Honda factory.
Apart from training sessions as clinical staff are moved to work with coronavirus patients, some major physical changes have been made to allow more beds to be prepared, to maximise the intensive care facilities, to prevent the spread of the virus within the hospital and to find more space for essential supplies such as PPE.
Kevin McNamara is GWH's Acting Chief Executive: "Some things we’ve done over the past few weeks are things that ordinarily would’ve taken many months (& many meetings!). Teams have relocated to other areas to make space & have done so with amazing speed & focus."
A senior clinician replies: "There are seismic changes and challenges we’ve never faced before. I have been impressed how people have pulled together in readiness for COVID-19. Things won’t ever be the same again." To which McNamara responds:
"Absolutely agree. There are also many changes that we need to cling on to and use as the way we do things post-Covid."
And tonight (Thursday, 26 March) we are all asked to stand outside our front doors and applaud for all NHS staff. That's a no brainer!
You can see Kevin McNamara's video message to GWH's staff here.
NOTE: This report has been compiled from website and Twitter posts. I obviously cannot go to GWH and do not want to chase very busy people with phone calls. All photos via Twitter.