Coronavirus pods set up at Black Country hospitals
Coronavirus assessment pods have been set up outside hospitals in the region to stop A&E departments being overrun.
New Cross Hospital and Walsall Manor Hospital have both now set up designated pods for people who think they might have the illness as a substitute for them going to A&E.
It comes after the NHS ordered all hospitals to set up the isolation booths for the purposes of dealing with suspected cases.
A letter from NHS England to trusts across the country said: "As part of managing care in emergency departments, trusts are being asked to organise a “Coronavirus Priority Assessment Pod”, which will mean people with symptoms indicative of infection will get quick assessment, while other patients also continue to get appropriate care."
It is believed each pod will need to be decontaminated each time it is used. A temporary building has also been put in place outside A&E at Princess Royal Hospital in Telford.
However NHS trusts in Walsall, Dudley, Sandwell and Wolverhampton declined to comment on how they are specifically dealing with coronavirus locally. Meanwhile preparations have been taking place at Stafford’s County hospital in case a patient believed to have the illness does turn up, the University Hospitals of North Midlands (UHNM) NHS Trust heard at its board meeting this week.
Chief nurse Michelle Rhodes said: “The response [to coronavirus] is being led by Public Health England, both nationally and locally. We have been following their guidance. We are as well-prepared at this time as we can be for any patients who might have coronavirus.
"We are lucky we have an isolation ward on site. We have an isolation area and we are working with the emergency preparedness team and infection control. We have put doctors and nurses in place and we have a supply of protective equipment.
“We have ‘grab bags’ with all the equipment we are required to wear if a patient comes in and there are ‘donning and doffing’ procedures for putting them on and how we take them off and how we dispose of them.”
Trust board chairman David Wakefield asked: “If a patient turns up how do you determine if they have flu or coronavirus?” Mrs Rhodes responded: “There has been significant guidance on what you have to do.
"We are actively encouraging patients not to come to A&E unless they have severe symptoms – they should call 111. We need to get swabs sent off to a lab.
"Nationally they are trying to set up a home-swabbing service so patients don’t have to come to hospital to get a swab. Until the swabs come back, which could take several hours or days, we wouldn’t know if it is coronavirus or not.”
The risk of contracting coronavirus in the UK is currently considered low, according to the NHS website, but anyone who has recently travelled from China’s Wuhan or Hubei provinces is urged to stay indoors after arriving in the UK.
They are to avoid contact with other people and call the NHS on 111 to tell them of their recent travel.
More than 500 people have died across the world after contracting coronavirus but just three cases of the respiratory illness have been diagnosed so far in the UK.
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