East Kent Hospitals has today (July 28) confirmed the results of its programme to rapidly test 9,000 members of staff for Covid-19 over five days last week.
The results show 15 Trust staff tested positive and are isolating in line with national guidance.
East Kent Hospitals Trust runs five hospitals and community clinics serving a local population of around 695,000 people. Main hospital sites are in Margate, Canterbury and Ashford.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Rebecca Martin said: “We know that while many people experience mild – or even no – symptoms of Covid-19, they have the potential to carry and pass on the virus without knowing it
“Testing staff means we can be sure no member of staff who may be carrying the virus without knowing it is working in our hospitals.”
This is part of an on-going package of measures to keep patients, staff and the wider community safe and minimise the risk of transmission within hospital.
Dr Martin added: “It is important that our patients and staff to have confidence that we are doing all we can to keep them, and those close to them, safe while they are in our care whether they are being treated for Covid-19 or using other hospital services.
“This included limiting the number of people on site, having a strict “front door” policy including taking temperature checks before people enter the hospitals, providing face masks for those entering and hand cleansing facilities, and testing asymptomatic patients regularly whilst they are in hospital.
“It is important that patients invited for appointments and procedures continue to attend.
“Patients can help minimise transmission of Covid-19 by following the advice to wear a face covering, regularly clean their hands, maintain social distancing where they can and following the instructions in the hospitals”
What you can expect when you visit
As some hospital services that were suspended while the NHS responded to the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic reopen the hospital will be very different.
Everyone has their temperature checked before they enter and if you have a high temperature you may be asked to return home and rearrange your appointment.
There are also hand washing facilities at the entrances, sanitising wipes and everyone entering must wear a face covering.
Staff will be wearing surgical masks, some areas are “one-way”, and staff are also asking people to walk on the left in corridors and to restrict the numbers of people in lifts and office areas.
The Trust is continuing to carry out many outpatient appointments by video or telephone, to reduce the numbers of people in the hospital and allow for social distancing.
People who need to attend for urgent or emergency care will be assessed before they enter the hospital, with different areas for people who are suspected to be suffering from Covid-19.
There are also separate areas throughout the hospital for Covid-19 patients and non Covid-19 patients, so that patients with coronavirus are nursed separately and by staff wearing personal protective equipment.
All patients – no matter what they are being treated for or whether they have symptoms – are tested for coronavirus regularly during their stay at Trust hospitals, and people coming in for planned procedures are asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days.
Daily infection prevention and control staff briefings on the wards and matrons carrying out daily observation ward rounds ensure all members of staff observe the principles of best practice.
The number of patients with covid-19 who have needed to be admitted to hospitals in East Kent is reducing and the Trust is now caring for 29 patients across its hospital sites, down from a high of 141 in May. In total 948 patients have recovered and been discharged.