Northampton General Hospital (NGH) has unveiled its new 'game-changing' £16million 'state of the art' critical care unit.
A £15.9 million grant was given to the hospital to build a new on-site critical care unit through capital funding from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to upgrade and improve NHS buildings.
The new unit replaces the old intensive care unit and comprises 16 specialist beds, five specialist isolation rooms, a relatives room, and better facilities for staff to work and rest in.
Simon Weldon, chief executive of NGH, explained what it means for the hospital and thanked everyone who was involved in the creation of the facility.
Mr Weldon said: "This is the product of a total community effort. We can provide care now for people in state of the art facilities and that's a complete game-changer for us.
"Our facilities in the old ITU were so cramped, so difficult that we had to be really restrictive in terms of how we let people have access to their loved ones at a time [Covid pandemic] when they were going through some of the most extreme situations you can imagine.
"Patients will now be cared for in individual rooms. They will have privacy, they will have dignity. It means we are able to care for patients safely and so we are much less likely to see risks of cross infections that we would have had previously.
"People forget that buildings matter when you go to work. This is a space that is light, airy, that you feel you have got room to breathe.
"When we're helping relatives and patients on their journey, we can do so in facilities that value them. They will be able to remember being with their loved one in facilities that are truly respectful of the patient and what they need."
Former Covid ITU patient Gordon Anderson was invited by NGH to come and have a look at the new facilities on Wednesday (June 22), two years on from his 'scary' experience with Covid.
Gordon went into the accident and emergency department on March 27 2020 with Covid-19 symptoms and a low oxygen level. Following his admission to hospital he needed care in the hospital’s critical care department to help him breathe.
After a long recovery and almost three months in hospital Gordon was given the good news in June 2020 that he was well enough to return home to continue his recovery with his family.
Reacting to the new unit, the 54-year-old dad and husband from Daventry said: "I was in the old critical care unit for 10 weeks. The nurses brought me back to life. They done their job, and they done it very well.
"I was one of those people who thought Covid wouldn't happen to me. Big shock. That woke me up. Life is important. Life is precious.
"I was in a very little room. It was just a cramped environment for everyone. For the job they do, they need more room.
"Seeing this new unit today, wow, overwhelming. They deserve every inch they get. It's amazing. It must be overwhelming for them. If there's another pandemic they're prepared.
"You've got fresh air here, natural daylight, you've got visible trees, you've got a view and that will help patients.
"These guys, the job they have done throughout that pandemic, unreal. It's such an honour to be asked to come and see it. I had a few tears when I was asked to come and have a look.
"What a fantastic bunch here at NGH. I can't thank them enough. They have become a very important part of my life now. I love each and every one of them. And they'll be able to do their job better now and that's what it's all about."
Sarah Masterson, lead operating department practitioner for critical care, said the new facilities will benefit everyone who uses them.
She said: "It's the polar opposite to what we had before. The old unit we worked in is 50+ years old, we've outgrown it.
"Coming to this new CCU, it's just worlds apart. Nobody wants to come to CCU but if you can make their visit as nice and as comfortable as possible it just takes away a little bit of stress.
"I think patients will get better care here because the nurses will have so much more space, it's a safer environment everyone.
"I think people will look forward to coming to work here. We spend so much of our days here, so making it a nice area was one of the objectives of the build.
"We've designed the unit so if we have another Covid wave we will be better equipped to deal with it. We have five isolation rooms here. It's always better to be prepared for these things."
Dr David Popple, intensive care consultant at NGH, said: "It's absolutely essential to have a CCU like this. This is really a flagship intensive care unit now for the country. We're all really pleased with what we have ended up with."
Lesley Smith, matron in CCU, said: "The new CCU is going to make such a difference in every aspect. It's purpose built, state of the art, we've got so much space now for every patient.
"It will just make such a difference to nurses’ working days. Nurses have been through the most difficult time so having this, I can't describe how fantastic it's going to be for everybody."
The Northamptonshire Health Charity have also supported in funding some items for the building including murals to help to explain to loved ones what each piece of equipment does that they might see in a bedspace while their loved one is being cared for.