Coronavirus deaths at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital rise to 51, but stories of recovery bring hope to staff and patients

There is light at the end of the tunnel as increasing numbers of coronavirus patients are discharged from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

As of yesterday evening, 51 people have died at the King’s Lynn hospital after testing positive for COVID-19.

But the figures also show 61 patients treated for the virus have been sent home and staff this week celebrated the first discharge of a coronavirus patient who had been in intensive care, cheering and clapping as she left.

The QEH continues to treat around 77 coronavirus patients on its wards and chief executive Caroline Shaw this week highlighted the “profound impact” the pandemic was having on staff,

Mrs Shaw gained an insight into the pressures faced when she worked part of a shift in the critical care unit and experienced what it was like to wear full protective equipment.

She praised the “unbelievable teamwork” and said she now understood the “pressure, issues and challenges” faced.

In her weekly hospital blog, she said: “Each of the conversations and interactions I have had with you have really brought home just how tough and stressful it is across the board.

“What I have observed over the last few days, including how hard it is right now, is something I will never forget.”

The chief executive warned it would be a marathon not a sprint, telling staff: “We have plans to maximise our support for you during and beyond COVID-19 mindful of the profound impact it is having on you physically, mentally, psychologically and, in many cases, financially.” 

After listening to feedback, Mrs Shaw said it was “clear we must do better” to improve communication with families who cannot visit loved ones with the virus.

“We need to be more proactive with our phone calls and how we keep in touch,” she said.

Hospital leaders have again praised the community’s support for the hospital, which included the donation of around 6,000 Easter eggs at the weekend.

The hospital’s COVID-19 charitable support fund has also smashed its  initial £5,000 target. 

More than £17,500 was raised in the first few days and a new £30,000 target has been set to provide important extras for staff and patients during the pandemic.

Hospital trust chairman Professor Steve Barnett said: “We’ve been stunned by the support of our community in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic. 

“We’ve had a number of material donations which have really helped to support and boost our dedicated workforce.

 “We recognise though that the impact of COVID-19 will continue for some time, even when the pandemic has passed our staff will need and deserve ongoing support and so these financial contributions will help to further support our teams and their wellbeing during the months to come.”

Professor Barnett also worked alongside staff, spending time with the domestic services team cleaning Tilney ward.

• Youngsters have this week helped to spread the “stay at home and stay safe message” via a YouTube video. 

The children involved are of staff working on Rudham children’s ward at the Lynn hospital.

Click here to view their story.