WHEN patient Roehl Ribaya leaves the intensive care unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital it will mark the end of an historic era.
Life has been both terrifying and exhilarating for staff in the critical care department as they have faced their own fears while battling to save some of the most poorly Coronavirus patients.
But after 60 days of intensive treatment, aerospace engineer, Roehl will become the last COVID patient to leave the intensive care unit.
Since the start of the outbreak 94 patients have become ill enough to need intensive care and have been either ventilated or received intensive treatment.
Roehl, a Filipino father of one, will be the last of these patients to leave ITU and will mark the end of the first COVID wave.
“It’s amazing to be able to wave goodbye to our last COVID patient,” said lead consultant Dr Jason Cupitt. “While we have all become very fond of Roehl, the staff are so happy to say farewell because it sends out the message that we have survived the first wave of this silent killer.” “In 19 years as a consultant this has been the most emotional rollercoaster,” Jason admitted. “I remember the first cases. The nurses had tears in their eyes because they knew nothing about this new disease; it was terrifying for them.
“The staff were frightened. I liken it to sending young soldiers into battle, into the unknown, to fight an enemy they couldn’t see. I felt very responsible.”
But Jason was full of praise for the staff who worked on the ICU during the first wave. “Although you could see the fear, you could feel the determination of the staff. They had each other’s backs and were buddying each other.
“We bonded amazingly well as a medical and nursing team and each member became indispensable,” he added.
“Everyone had a critical role to play, for example without the domestic team we could not have continued; cleanliness was vital to allow us to operate. The hospital charity co-ordinating donations made life just a bit easier and showed staff they were appreciated.”
Jason, a medical officer in the Army Reserves, said his military background had helped him lead the local critical care response to Coronavirus.
“Military training helps you make decisions and be prepared to change them when circumstances demand. It gives you a willingness to adapt and overcome.
“Experience of all kinds became very important during this pandemic. We were dealing with a new disease.” Jason added. “We had to learn very quickly.
“Sharing information locally, regionally and nationally became vital and medical group social media platforms were essential. We would have felt very isolated without this means of communication.”