QEQM team caring for patients battling coronavirus say community support ‘keeps us going’

The team on Sandwich Bay ward

A QEQM Hospital ward manager has spoken out to thank the community for their support as her teams continue to care for patients battling coronavirus.

Penny Searle, who runs Sandwich Bay ward at the hospital in Margate, said gifts and gestures from businesses and individuals were keeping staff morale up during the outbreak.

And she praised her nursing team for ‘stepping up’ to care for some of the sickest patients with COVID-19.

Penny, who lives in Herne Bay, said: “We as a team have the opportunity to take pride in our ability to rise to this challenge.

“We will be able to say we managed it, and we stepped up. We are all in it together and the camaraderie is just fantastic. We always talk about things and every time there are tears, there is hope shared too. “

The ward, and the hospital, have been inundated with gifts and offers of support from the community; from pizza and curries to toiletries and keepsakes.

Penny said: “We have a gift cupboard and if we’ve hit a low moment we’ll open the cupboard and find something we can share.

“It means so much to know people are thinking of us, and continue to think of us, and it does make a difference. With the uncertainty around what we will continue to face in future weeks and months, this continued support will be cherished.

“Everything we have is shared, with the whole team and with the other COVID-19 wards, and the support helps us to keep going.

“I know people feel helpless when they are isolated at home but I want them to know that their efforts are appreciated more than they realise.”

The ward has been caring for coronavirus patients since the beginning of the outbreak and have been supported by staff joining from other areas of the hospital and wider Trust.

She said: “The redeployed staff have been amazing. Even though some have been anxious they have still come – from endoscopy, from the Spencer Wing, some from the William Harvey Hospital and the respiratory team.

“These are the people who have stepped up and come to do something they feel is worthwhile.

“We all try to do the best to care for every patient and their families, and the nurses have been buddying up to give each other extra support.

“All the teams across the Trust have been really stoical and kept going, even when they don’t always feel like it.

“The Trust has been so supportive and the gestures such as free food and free parking are all very welcome – as are our daily meetings with hospital managers that give us a voice.”