The North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT) has held a memorial event for NHS staff and patients lost to the pandemic, attended by Brentwood MP Alex Burghart and Mayor Gareth Barrett.
The event at Brentwood Community Hospital offered an opportunity to remember staff and patients lost to the pandemic but also to thank all those, who helped deliver care at this difficult time.
The hospital became one of the main zones for treating people with life-threatening COVID-19 in the area. Teams in NELFT worked tirelessly in challenging circumstances to create the new wards for recovery care in the Essex hospital. With support from the armed forces and the fire brigade, two purpose-built wards were raised from the ground up in a matter of weeks.
Patients who had contracted COVID-19 and required medical attention, but no longer needed acute care, were transferred to the beds created at Brentwood which meant that NHS staff at acute hospitals in the area could care for more seriously ill patients.
Photograph includes: NELFT staff from Brentwood Community Hospital, NELFT chair, Eileen Tayor, NELFT CEO, Paul Calaminus, Brentwood MP Alex Burghart and Mayor Gareth Barrett
Mayor Gareth Barrett and MP Alex Burghart spoke at the event, where NELFT Chair Eileen Taylor unveiled the plaque dedicated to honouring the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in building the wards and a cherry tree was planted to commemorate those lost to the pandemic.
Paul Calaminus, NELFT CEO, said:
“It’s important to honour the memory of patients and staff we lost to the pandemic but also acknowledge the extraordinary resilience of all those, who went above and beyond to build these wards so that vital recovery care is provided to hundreds more people in the community.”
Photograph left: Plaque unveiled at Brentwood Community Hospital
Photograph right: Sandra and Danny at the Brentwood Community Hospital Pandemic Memorial Event
Danny Brophy, who worked at the ward at the time as a healthcare assistant, and sadly lost his mother to COVID-19, said:
“That spring our world changed overnight. Before the pandemic we were a small rehabilitation ward for older people – then from Good Friday to Easter Monday we became a COVID ward. It was very scary, everyone was frightened, but we had to help our patients most of whom were at the end of their lives and alone in hospital. Everyone pulled together and we leant on each other for support.”
Sandra Kinnear, who worked at Brentwood with her daughter, said:
“Seeing patients struggling all alone without being able to talk to their families was devastating. We’d put our personal phones in blood bags so that they could call their loved ones. It made such a difference to morale not just for patients but also for staff on the ward.
“There were tears but there was also a lot of laughter, we had to keep going. We all kept each other going, and had each other’s backs – from management and nurses and doctors to the cleaners.”