Health & safety of patients and staff priority as COVID-19 cases identified at St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich

Public health officials are working closely with the Medical Director and senior managers at St Elizabeth Hospice to protect staff, patients and the community as a small number of patients and some staff in the Inpatient Unit have tested positive for COVID-19.

The affected patients have continued to be cared for, and the staff members and their close contacts are now self-isolating at home and being supported by St Elizabeth Hospice and public sector partners.  The hospice is taking this opportunity to remind all members of the community that it is imperative to continue with the Government’s advice and guidance on social distancing, handwashing and wearing masks to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

St Elizabeth Hospice has had extensive infection prevention and control measures in place to prevent and manage COVID-19 infections since March 2020. These are continuing and include a reduction in footfall in the hospice building by staff working from home or in strict bubbles, compulsory face masks to be worn on all their sites, strict hand washing regimes, social distancing throughout the hospice, and use of medical PPE according to guidance from Public Health. Through the hospice’s partnership with Ipswich Hospital (ESNEFT), front line staff are also being tested for COVID-19 twice a week and will shortly receive the C19 vaccination as it becomes available to health care professionals.

The hospice has taken the difficult decision to temporarily close to new admissions to help contain the outbreak. The eight patients currently on the Inpatient Unit are being cared for to the highest standards and visiting arrangements for friends and family have been adapted as an additional protection measure.

Officials from Suffolk County Council, Public Health Suffolk, Public Health England, Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group and St Elizabeth Hospice are working together to manage the situation.

Dr Kelvin Bengtson, Medical Director at St Elizabeth Hospice confirmed:

“The recent introduction of home (lateral flow) testing of our frontline staff has resulted in a number of people testing positive even though many are not displaying any symptoms. As soon as this became apparent we took immediate steps to limit the spread of infection as much as possible. We adapted our services back in March so the number of patients visiting the building was already reduced, hospice day care and outpatient appointments as well as our Zest groups for young adults had already been paused.

“The people we care for are some of the most vulnerable who are living with incurable illnesses and it is vital that we do all we can to protect them. Whilst we are temporarily unable to admit people into the Inpatient Unit at Foxhall Road, our OneCall 24/7 telephone advice line is fully operational and our team of nurses, doctors and therapists continue to deliver specialist palliative and end of life care in the community to meet the increasing demand, especially since we are not able to admit at the current time. As soon as the outbreak is controlled and staffing levels as well as the environment is safe to do so, we will commence admission to the Inpatient Unit again.

“I’d especially like to recognise the staff at St Elizabeth Hospice for the speed and thoroughness with which they’ve acted. The teams have extensive controls in place and our partners are supporting us closely.”

If anyone has any concerns about how this could affect the hospice care they currently receive, they can call OneCall on 0800 567 0111 for advice. The hospice and all their partners recognise the importance of protecting staff and the wider community, and are encouraging everyone to keep following Government guidance around hand washing, social distancing and wearing face coverings.

If anyone does develop symptoms, which include a new continuous cough, high temperature or loss or change to their sense of taste or smell, they should self-isolate straight away and arrange a COVID-19 test. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-Covid-19/testing-and-tracing/ask-for-a-test-to-check-if-you-have-coronavirus/

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate immediately and apply for a test. Testing is free and easy, find out more at:  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-Covid-19/



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