Covid-19 patients in their 30s have been fighting for their lives in Northern Ireland’s Nightingale intensive care unit, a nurse has said.
ister Liz Moore, who works in the recovery ward for Covid-19 patients discharged from ICU, revealed the youngest patient they have cared for was just 34-years-old who had no underlying health conditions.
She said the majority of patients who come to the unit after lengthy periods in critical care must relearn basic skills such as swallowing, drinking, walking and talking.
She also revealed that some patients deteriorate and must return to intensive care despite apparently beginning to recover from the virus.
Ms Moore was speaking at the weekly briefing by the Department of Health on Wednesday afternoon and she highlighted the indiscriminate nature of Covid-19.
“I am a ward sister in the post intensive care Covid step down ward in the Belfast City Hospital, the Nightingale,” she said.
“We have been caring for Covid patients since last April, the patients coming out of intensive care are very sick and in many cases are unable to do anything for themselves.
“Simple things like eating, swallowing, drinking, walking, talking.
“The patients’ ages range from 35 up to their 80s, but most of our patients, to be honest, have been in their 40s, 50s and 60s and some of these patients had no underlying medical conditions.
“Some of the patients have spent a long time in intensive care, any time from around a week to 66 days and are so ill and frail when they come to the ward.
“They all still require oxygen therapy, various amounts and for a period of weeks or months.
“Some patients really can become unwell again and have to go back to intensive care.
“The patients’ recovery can take a long time, it can take weeks or months and can be very challenging for the patient, but with the help of all of our team, doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, speech and language, domestics and catering, a whole array of our team, we all work together to help the patients recover from Covid and go home to their families.
“We have a fantastic team and thank them all for all their hard work and dedication.”
Speaking at the briefing, Health Minister Robin Swann urged people across Northern Ireland to continue their efforts to keep the virus under control.
According to latest figures, there have been 504 new cases and 11 further deaths recorded.
Mr Swann said while infection numbers have come down, they are “still to high”.
“Sadly this pandemic is far from over but while we are making important progress, this remains a long-term struggle,” he said.
“There will inevitably be more challenges, more setbacks and unfortunately more tragedy.
“But Northern Ireland can and will get through this, we can gain hope and we can gain strength from the progress of our vaccination programme.”
Mr Swann revealed 271,826 vaccines had been delivered in Northern Ireland by Tuesday evening, which he said represented an increase of over 13,500 in a 24-hour period.
He said a further significant delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine have arrived in Northern Ireland and he said they were being delivered to GP surgeries throughout the week.
He continued: “One of our highest numbers of vaccines administered over a single day and once again, I want to thank our trust staff and our GP teams who are so capably and effectively delivering the programme on the ground.
“Our health service has suffered many hammer blows over the past year, but it is still standing, it is still caring and as well as dealing with the latest Covid surge, it is rolling out an unprecedented vaccination programme.
“Daily, I am in awe of the commitment and the expertise demonstrated day in and day out by the staff in our health and social care service and the wider health family.
“They are exhausted and are traumatised by what they have been through, but their determination and dedication, professionalism, commitment should be an example to us all and we owe it to them to do everything we can to stop Covid-19 spreading.”