Hero Nurse’s Quick Thinking Saved 13 Dementia Patients From Coronavirus
A quick-thinking nurse helped ensure the survival of 13 dementia patients following an outbreak of the virus in her nursing home.
Staff at Church Farm at Skylarks nursing home in West Bridgford, Nottingham, first noticed signs of an outbreak in March, when five of the home’s 50 residents tested positive for the virus and eight more showed symptoms.
Staff sprung into action as soon as they were made aware of the situation, with head of nursing Maria Spollin using her experience working at Glenfield Hospital during the 2009 swine flu epidemic to help inform her decisions.
Speaking about her actions to Good Morning Britain, Maria said:
It was a very difficult day that day. Several residents presented very quickly, one after each other, with symptoms that are possibly linked with the coronavirus. I knew I needed to act quickly, because if it was coronavirus we wanted to limit the spread of it as much as possible.
And if I didn’t do something quickly then we risked more residents and staff members developing the same symptoms. So yes we had to work very quickly to contain the virus.
The care team was instructed to treat any resident with symptoms as if they had contracted the virus, and staff obtained permission from family members to isolate those with the virus or showing symptoms.
Maria told ITV News the reaction was tough but necessary, explaining:
It was a very difficult decision to make, weighing up the consequences if someone had not got the virus but was contained with people who had got the virus, I was potentially putting them at risk.
Maria created ‘zoning areas’ in the care home to ensure those affected were kept away from the rest of the residents, some of who didn’t understand the seriousness of the situation. Staff working in the ‘zone’ with the affected patients also isolated themselves to prevent risk of spreading.
Because we are a dementia specialist care home not everybody understands the instructions we were giving to them, so they didn’t understand the importance of keeping away from fellow residents they lived with.
So we developed a ‘ward’ where we could keep people together that were displaying the same symptoms to keep them safe and monitored and cared for effectively while protecting the rest of the residents in the home.
As well as setting up beds in the isolation area, staff included chairs and activities to ensure the residents didn’t have to remain bed-bound during their recovery phase.
Elderly people are considered to be the most at risk from the virus, but Maria’s quick thinking meant all 13 patients had fully recovered by April 23, and the care home was officially declared virus-free.
According to the Nottingham Post, Patrick Atkinson, director of the Church Farm Care Group that runs the home, explained the staff’s response to the outbreak, saying:
The crucial thing is to react and isolate quickly if you believe someone is symptomatic. Maria was instrumental in our containment process and in preventing further infection within our residents.
I’m incredibly proud of all the staff who helped play a part in looking after our residents.
Retired Army Brigadier Peter Stevenson, who served with the Scottish Borderers, was the first of the home’s residents to catch the virus.
His daughter, Julia Murphy, told ITV News:
Dad was coming up to 86 and he hadn’t been well at all last year when he had an heart attack out of the blue. I was thinking, ‘Oh Lord, I can’t even get in to see him to say goodbye.’
Peter is now fully recovered and celebrated his 86th birthday on the same day the home was declared virus-free.
We’re incredibly blessed to have such a fabulous team here. I am just so relieved that everyone is getting better.
The incredible work of Maria and the rest of the staff can’t be commended enough; their fast actions will have undoubtedly prevented more patients from developing the virus, and will have almost certainly saved lives.
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CreditsITV News and 3 others
Church Farm Care
Good Morning Britain