Christine Mozzamdar, Hospital Director at The Hospital Group, explains what the organisation is doing to keep patients safe when its clinics reopen soon
The arrival of the Covid-19 global pandemic in the UK meant that The Hospital Group suddenly had to close its network of clinics, but with their reopening imminent, intense planning to ensure the safety of both staff and patients has taken place in recent weeks.
Christine explains, “Although our clinics are presently closed, we’ve been working closely with the NHS, almost since the beginning of the pandemic. Our Burcot Hall Hospital has been used to ensure that NHS cancer patients can still have the surgery they need, thanks to our surgical team, and we’ve also looked after NHS step-down patients with different medical and social conditions. It’s been a learning curve and challenging at times, but our NHS partnership has given us greater insight into how we can work safely and in everyone’s best interest.”
Helping the NHS during Covid-19 has led to some challenges for the Burcot Hall team, but as Christine explains, they have coped admirably. “To get to where we needed to be, our team members had to undergo huge amounts of training. It was pretty intensive, but incredibly valuable. The feedback from the team has been very positive because it helped them safely prepare for these new patients and understand what they needed to do to protect everyone’s health. Combined with the new procedures, equipment and full PPE that were introduced, we couldn’t have been better prepared.”
The experience gained to date has been used in the preparation for the Group’s clinics reopening in July. “All our clinics are different, from their size and shape to the number of staff and patients that we can safely admit while adhering to social distancing measures,” Christine says. “We’ve had to put strict processes in place throughout the patient journey within our clinics so that we can mitigate the risks to everyone involved.”
In contrast to the procedures carried out at Burcot Hall, patients visiting the company’s clinics won’t have been tested for the coronavirus prior to arrival. Perspex screens at the reception desks are in place, handshakes are no longer acceptable, and temperature checks carried out on entry to the clinic to check patients are asymptomatic. Christine advises, “Out of necessity all our patients will be treated as being potentially positive. Our colleagues will be in full PPE, and anyone who does test positive will be asked to go home and enter the recommended 14 days of isolation.”
She continues, “In line with Public Health England guidance, we will also be randomly testing our clinic staff to ensure that any non-symptomatic positive cases are detected, isolated and reported. We’ll also be screening our employees daily to ensure that they have not had contact with any positive cases and have no symptoms, such as a raised temperature, prior to starting work for the day. And we have increased the frequency and detail of the cleaning rotas across all areas of the clinics.”
Patients who proceed to having surgery with the Group will return to the clinic for their pre-operative appointment approximately 5 days before their admission date. At that point, they’ll have a Covid-19 swab taken by a nurse to ensure that they’re free of the virus.
Further in-depth analysis of each clinic’s operations will be carried out by the relevant Clinic Manager in the days prior to the reopening date. “Getting back to work safely is our focus. The Managers know their clinics better than anyone else, and so they will each carry out a mandatory risk assessment once they are able to get access to the clinic again, prior to welcoming any patients back. This will mean we can implement any additional unique and robust procedures that are required to best suit that individual clinic and its floor plan.”
Christine continues, “While we’re very keen to start helping our patients again as soon as possible, our priority first and foremost is to make sure we do that safely. Where required, we’ll continue to change our procedures as required so that we’re doing all we can to keep everyone protected.”