It’s always vital to ensure that our Hospital is clean and safe to visit, but this is of even greater importance in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic – and we are going above and beyond in making certain that patients can come to St John & St Elizabeth Hospital with total peace of mind.
Sarah Beshir is the Infection Prevention and Control Lead at St John & St Elizabeth Hospital, responsible for putting necessary precautions in place and making sure they are followed. “My role is to keep everyone safe, including patients and staff,” says Sarah. “That involves putting measures in place that both eradicate any trace of the virus, as well as measures which protect people from contracting the virus.”
“COVID has created a lot of work for us, but we have still gone far beyond what is strictly necessary in order to safeguard our staff and patients,” says Sarah. “There is no way our Hospital is not safe enough for you to come and be seen by a consultant – in fact, it’s probably one of the safest places you could possibly be, outside of your own home.”
Below, Sarah outlines the measures we have taken to guarantee the safety of our staff and patients.
Enhanced infection prevention and control
Our extended Infection Prevention and Control Team regularly review Public Health England and the World Health Organisation’s IPC guidelines. Our Hospital takes great pride in protecting you, our staff and everyone who visits, from infectious diseases. So we are always up to date with the latest government guidelines to ensure that best practice is in place.
Face masks and coverings
Staff and patients are required to wear face masks in the Hospital, and you will be offered a mask at our hygiene stand on entry to the Hospital. The surgical masks we use are a step above what’s required; the guidance requires use of FRSM 1 face masks, but we use FRSM 2 which is higher. Since the pandemic started we have gone from using no masks to 8,000 masks a week.
Face masks help protect the spread of airborne pathogens. If you cough or sneeze without a mask, especially inside, then the germs in your body can be present in the air when someone else breathes. Masks help prevent this from happening so we ask everyone to wear a mask for protection. Not only that, but if any of our staff are coming within two meters of a patient, they also wear safety goggles – which is an extra precaution we take, but isn’t regular practise at all hospitals.
Regular asymptomatic COVID-19 staff testing
We systematically test all of our staff fortnightly to be certain that none of them have acquired asymptomatic COVID-19 (and, of course, if they have displayed any symptoms then they are no longer coming into work). By testing all of our staff every two weeks we are staying on top of any developments in their health, and making sure the virus isn’t given a chance to spread in our Hospital.
COVID-19 screening for patients
Not only are our staff tested for COVID-19, but patients are screened for COVID-19 when they book their appointment, and before they enter the Hospital. Patients who are admitted to the Hospital for a period of time are also then screened every week from that point onwards.
Hygiene station at the Hospital entrance
Our entrance now has a hygiene station through which each person coming to the Hospital must pass. This is where our COVID-19 screening takes place, including a temperature check, and patients are given sanitiser to clean their hands and face masks to wear during their visit.
Increased hand sanitising stations
Every single counter in the Hospital now has alcohol gel for people to sanitise their hands – so that’s a huge increase in the number of hygiene stations in our Hospital.
We also have in place a system for cleaning high-touch areas. As Infection Control Lead I have the responsibility of going round and making sure everything is cleaned – including chairs used for transporting patients, or outpatient doors and lifts, for example. I have to go round at least twice a day to make sure all these areas are kept clean and sanitised.
One-way system around Hospital
We have implemented a one-way system in the Hospital by using signage and floor stickers to direct visitors in such a way that there is social distancing at all times. By keeping everyone moving in the same direction, we ensure that people are primarily facing away from one another which minimises the chance of infection. We have also maintained strict two-metre social distancing throughout the Hospital wherever possible.
Doing your part as a patient – attend alone, be on time, wear your mask
We are asking our patients to do their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 too, by attending their appointments alone (unless the patient is a minor or dependent accompanied by a parent or carer), in order that we can minimise the number of people in the Hospital and therefore the chances of bringing in or spreading the virus.
We are also asking that patients arrive no more than 5 minutes before their appointments. This minimises the amount of time that patients spend in the Hospital, and therefore also the number of people in the building at any given time. To this end, we are also currently not accepting visitors at the Hospital.
We have removed all water dispensers, to eliminate the possibility of dirty drinking cups being left somewhere that could facilitate the spread of the virus. If patients need a drink of water they can ask us, but we need to be able to monitor the situation. Finally, we ask that patients keep their masks on at all times while they’re in the Hospital, or we will have to ask them to leave.
If you have a health concern you’d like to get seen to sooner rather than later contact our team by heading to our contact page, calling us on +44 (0)20 7806 4000 or emailing us at [email protected].