Homerton Hospital has put together a resource of information for people suffering long-term symptoms after contracting coronavirus.
The information pack, collated by physiotherapist Nikki Anderton, is understood to have been widely sought after by other hospital trusts, with twelve asking if they can use it.
According to a spokesperson, the Homerton is “slowly, surely, gradually” reopening some of its wards and services, while remaining constrained by national protocols around infection control due to its size.
Surgical facilities, for example, are not yet fully operational because of their proximity to Covid wards.
Laura Graham, a specialist respiratory physiotherapist who worked on the information pack, said: “We wanted something that brings together all the symptoms that we’ve been finding patients report post-Covid in one place.
“There has been stuff produced, but it has been on breathlessness, or fatigue, or managing diet, so we wanted to put everything into one resource pack.
“It was initially in use for City of London & Hackney, but now it’s taken off and others want to use it, which is fantastic.
“There are going to be patients that have slow-stream rehab needs because of the severity of their symptoms, patients who have been in intensive care or had respiratory support.
“We’re seeing patients come out with neuromuscular issues, neurological issues, breathlessness, fatigue, there’s many different groups.
“There are patients who come out with a potentially underlying respiratory problem or complications, or patients who have chronic fatigue.
“We’re still learning, and we have been auditing the different rehab needs of patients as they are discharged.
“We understand there are patients who will be symptomatic for months before they are back to their baseline, so we wanted to give them a resource pack to say, ‘These are things you can try’.
“These are probably patients who are independent and caring for themselves, but need symptom control and advice on how to manage their symptoms while they recover up to a three-month stage.”
The booklet includes advice on how to manage respiratory problems, strategies for conserving energy, relaxation techniques, the emotional and psychological impact of having had Covid, and what to do if symptoms do not improve.
Graham’s team has been treating both patients who had to be hospitalised with the virus and those in the community who were never admitted who need information on their recovery.
Those with post-Covid symptoms are advised to seek further medical guidance after three months to see if they have longer-term impairments that need to be treated in a different way.
There have been no new diagnoses of Covid at the Homerton in the last 48 hours, with seven patients in the hospital’s Amber ward still waiting for the outcomes of tests.
As of today, there are six patients in total who are Covid-positive, with two in the intensive care unit, which is now operating normally and hosting between eight and 10 patients at any one time.
The hospital’s last death from the virus was on 24 May.
A Homerton Hospital spokesperson said: “This is significant, and a trend throughout this part of London. We’ve had no new diagnoses for 48 hours, and no deaths for nearly a month.
“The very positive news that has come nationally for treatment options going forward is with dexamethasone. As a medical leap forward, this has been found to be very effective.
“The use of this drug is another chink of light for effective treatments for those who have to go onto a ventilator. If there is a second spike, this could be quite reassuring news.
“Over the last week, we’ve started routine surgeries, which is very important, for people who have been on the waiting list for a while.
“Our acute care unit is now fully operational again, and part of our elderly care unit is slowly coming back to some sort of normality for our older patients with chronic care issues.”
The hospital is also slowly bringing patients back into wards covered by gastro, haeomotology, surgical inpatient, diabetes, endocrinology and respiratory teams.
People have to wear face masks as they move about the hospital, with any visitors either given a mask or required to have adequate face coverings of their own.
An easing of visitor restrictions is expected to take place over the next couple of weeks, as the Homerton works out protocols for designating ward staff to give visitor names to hospital security.
Wards are now slowly reopening as green ‘covid-clear’ or ‘covid-protected’ wards, with the hospital hopeful that “in due course” it will be able to welcome bookings from visitors to acute wards in a strict afternoon period.
Also expected is a further relaxation around maternity visits, with a single birth partner to be allowed to join mothers in labour, not just at delivery but at the maternity ward afterwards, as well as a relaxation for partners accompanying patients who need to receive scans.
You can find the Homerton’s post-Covid recovery pack here