Compassion and dignity as ERS staff work to shield residents from virus storm
In working to protect some of the most vulnerable people in the community, staff at Elderly Residential Services have taken steps not just to minimise the risk of infection but also to shield them from the deluge of negative news surrounding the global Covid-19 pandemic.
With its residents falling firmly within the high-risk classification for the virus, ERS, together with the Government, had taken extensive steps to bolster residents’ protection and remove potential sources of infection.
This began with effectively locking down ERS residential homes weeks ago and overhauling practices for all domestic, care and clinical staff as well as those delivering goods and services to the facilities.
But the emergence of three confirmed cases of the virus in the Hillsides Dementia and Alzheimers facility this week has heightened fears that they were infected by an asymptomatic member of staff.
These patients were all identified as having the virus on Sunday and Monday, respectively, and they are all currently stable.
All 77 staff members were then tested for the virus and these results are expected imminently.
Consultant Geriatrician and medical lead of Elderly Residential Services, Dr Antonio Marin, explained that all staff are checked before coming into the premises, including answering a detailed health questionnaire which is taken by a nurse or allied health professional.
The questionnaire includes a symptoms check, while staff members also have their temperature recorded each day.
All residents have their temperatures checked twice a day and any abnormal readings are immediately reported to the medical teams on call and the patient moved to isolation.
The facilities all now have 24/7 medical care in the form of five doctors and the on-call doctor service has been removed in order to prevent cross-contamination.
Residents with chronic illnesses now receive their respective treatments within the facilities to avoid transferring them to St Bernard’s Hospital, again to reduce the risk of infection.
In respect of how aware residents are of what is happening outside and how staff are handling their concerns, Dr Marin said: “All of our patients are aware that something has changed for the simple reason that we’re all wearing masks.”
“Dr Marin explained that at least 50% of patients suffer from dementia, but even those are aware that things are changing.”
“We try to provide comfort and reassurance and avoid making comments about Covid-19 to reduce stress.”
He explained that news channels are avoided in the hopes of keeping the environment as happy as possible.
The total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Gibraltar currently stands at 95, of whom 49 are active.
Of those 49 active cases, 45 are at home, three are in ERS facilities, there is one case in the Covid ward at St Bernard’s Hospital but no one is currently admitted to ICU with a confirmed Covid-19 infection.