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Coronavirus Kent: Medway Maritime Hospital ready for peak in Covid-19 cases

One of Kent's biggest hospitals is currently caring for almost 100 coronavirus patients – two doctors among them.

The number at Medway Maritime is made up of those who have been tested and definitely have the illness, and those with symptoms awaiting test results.

James Devine
James Devine

So far, 11 people have died of the disease at the Gillingham hospital with several hundred from across Medway and Swale treated there.

The figures were revealed by trust chief executive James Devine this afternoon.

He says government computer modelling shows next Wednesday (April 15) is when cases are expected to peak in the South East.

It is estimated at this point staff will be caring for 250 people with the disease.

Although busy, he feels the hospital is coping well at present with a situation where many patients being discharged.

Medway Maritime Hospital
Medway Maritime Hospital

Yesterday alone, 53 people were able to go home.

Intensive care unit bed numbers have been increased from the pre-outbreak 28 to 58 with the potential for 72 when space is utlised in operating theatres to coincide with the peak.

The hospital has 58 ventilators which – according to the modelling – should be able to cope with the surge when an estimated 18% of patients will need critical care.

Mr Devine also moved to address concerns about personal protection equipment (PPE) and the level of testing for the disease at the hospital.

He said as of Friday there were 16,000 surgical masks in reserve with the plan being to ensure "five to six days stock available at any one time".

A patient on a ventilator
A patient on a ventilator

"The supply of PPE to us has so far been very good," he said."Staff are being trained how to use it."

Addressing complaints not all staff were wearing masks around the hospital, Mr Devine said the trust was following national guidelines.

For example, it makes more sense to ensure those people working in high-risk areas wear and have access to the equipment.

The process of testing staff for the illness was under way with 165 people "swabbed" as of yesterday.

The hospital employs just under 4,500 people – 1,300 of them nurses.

The hospital has 16,000 face masks for medial staff
The hospital has 16,000 face masks for medial staff

Mr Devine would not be drawn on the condition of the ill doctors, also saying it was impossible to say whether they'd caught the virus at work.

An issue managers have had to deal with concerns an average of 14% of staff self-isolating at home over fears they or loved ones have the illness.

A lot of good work has been done in the community getting non-covid patients cared for away from the hospital.

Its usual occupancy rate is 98%, last week it went down to 68% and as of today it was 73%.

He also paid tribute to members of the public and his staff, many of whom are away from their families.

Coronavirus deaths are expected to peak next Wednesday
Coronavirus deaths are expected to peak next Wednesday

The hospital's charity has raised £6,000 to help buy food parcels and things like deodorant for workers.

Mr Devine also wanted to make clear he is still working from the hospital and not at home as some had suggested.

Speaking about the community response, he said: "People have always been very pro the NHS and I think this situation has really brought out the pride they have in the service."

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