A new intensive care ward to care for COVID-19 patients has been created at the RVI in Newcastle following 12 weeks of round the clock work.
The new unit will provide both intensive care and step-down care for COVID positive patients, to ensure that non-COVID emergency and elective work is able continue.
Clinical lead for the project at the RVI and clinical lead for adult critical care, Dr Ian Clement said: “During the first wave of the pandemic, temporary areas were used to care for patients outside of our critical care unit that needed a high-level of care.
“Although this worked well, it was clear that more critical care capacity was needed to help tackle future waves of the pandemic.”
Working around the clock
As pressure on clinical services eased over the summer, the Trust Estates Department put plans in place to create this new environment. The team worked around the clock during this short-window to complete the task.
Dr Clement adds: “We knew a second wave was likely and had the potential to be as big if not bigger than the first, so we wanted to make sure we were equipped for us to deliver the best level of care for our patients.”
The new unit will be used initially to care for patients with more severe COVID-19 infection, including those requiring continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and a higher level of monitoring under the care of the medical teams or those requiring critical care.
As Dr Clement explains: “The ward has been designed in such a way that we are able to flex the way that beds are used between high-acuity medical beds, and full level 3 critical care beds.
This gives us much greater flexibility to respond appropriately to the changing demands of our admissions both during the current COVID pandemic and in the future.Dr Ian Clement, Clinical lead for adult critical care
“The opportunity to have acute medical teams and critical care teams working alongside each other in the same clinical environment is very exciting.”
The newly designed ward layout and air handling unit means each area can be isolated individually, so that staff can don and doff PPE after leaving the clinical area, creating a more comfortable working environment.
Dr Clement continues: “Longer-term, this unit provides the RVI with a modern high-acuity medical ward for looking after the sickest medical patients. As the regional centre for critical care, it’s vital that we have this option to safely expand critical care beds when we need to.”