Page 24 - July 2020
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  THE SALAMANDER | July 2020
has been redirected to hospitals, which themselves are short of it. We called the Government hotline with the army ready to deliver, only every time we called they were engaged and then they could not supply us. But everyone was being told we have enough PPE, really? Being in primary care, you still see patients, they may not be visibly dying of COVID-19 and lying in bed, tragically, on a ventilator. But you do see them and with scant PPE.
Early into the lockdown I was asked to visit a care home to see two, unwell, elderly patients. One with a cough and raised temperature and one with urinary symptoms and a raised temperature. I did my best. I wore my PPE, a pair of non-latex gloves, my one surgical mask and a flimsy plastic apron, as per the often daily changing Public Health England guidance, not the stricter World Health Organisation kit. I changed gloves and apron in between examining them and of course, washed my hands. Unfortunately, the carer who escorted me to both patients did not have any PPE!
24 hours later one patient was taken to hospital and died of COVID-19, died in hospital, officially recorded as a COVID-19 death, having been tested for the virus. The other unfortunate patient died six days later, in the care home, not tested, as a death outside hospital, so was not officially recorded as COVID-19 in the Government figures. Food for thought, along with the increased home deaths being reported within our community and also, therefore, not ever being tested or reported
in the official death figures for COVID-19.
The GP surgery made two consultation rooms into Isolation rooms, for those patients who turn up unannounced with COVID-19 symptoms. They shouldn’t but they do. The patients are given a face mask, a pair of gloves and are directed to make their way to one of the rooms, where one of us will see them. If they appear symptomatic, they are treated or advised accordingly and the room is then deep cleaned. It heightens the senses, each time!
After the peak of COVID-19 deaths in April, we then had some additional plastic aprons, surgical masks and gloves delivered, with the addition of a home made Perspex face mask for all of the clinicians at our surgery, created by a very kind local person.
Soon after, a COVID-19 hot site was created at another GP surgery, which is to be staffed by clinicians from both surgeries, working together in collaboration. Seeing patients from the community who may have COVID-19 symptoms but also other underlying problems which need to be seen and treated. Oddly, this has not been busy, neither have we been seeing the usual numbers of patients with chest pains and strokes. Where are they? This is a worrying concern, as not all are going to A&E either. I often work late Thursday evenings and don’t get to hear the clap for NHS staff and key workers, but I had my birthday as annual leave and went outside in my street on one Thursday evening at 8pm. Wow! Goosebumps down my back
and arms. I was truly grateful and humble to have my neighbours clapping in support and I too joined in to support fellow colleagues and all the key workers up and down the country, each doing their bit, playing their part in this fight to keep as much normality for the general public.
Things aren’t perfect but I’d rather have my thin plastic apron and home made face shield than constantly face a queue of shoppers as I serve them at the till, at a distance of barely one metre! There are lots of other people serving their country, working their jobs, volunteering to help others less fortunate. This is what makes humanity great!
We’ve had some food hampers delivered by local supermarkets to support our staff whilst working and, at Easter, we received an Easter egg each!
It’s not all doom and gloom, there’s a lot of good which has happened and come from COVID-19 so far, but we need to continue to be careful to look after ourselves and family. And that could be by not visiting them! I continue to do home visits, see patients at the UTC. This virus has not gone! It’s still amongst us! I also continue to be careful, wash my hands, wear PPE and socially distance myself. If the end of “Stay at home” orders come this weekend, it doesn’t mean the pandemic is over. It means that they currently have room for you in ICU!
Stay safe and healthy.
  Page 24
Rodney Bryant
Primary Care Practitioner

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