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Meet the team behind the Nightingale facility

Eyleen Gomez

The creation and running of the Europa Nightingale Hospital would not be possible without the doctors and nurses of the GHA.

A nightingale set-up is when there are rows of patients and the medical staff can see them at a glance.

Matron Natasha Cerisola and acting matron Sarah Smith, who are in charge of the facility, explained what the hospital can achieve if needed.

“We will have a doctor on for 24 hours, plus they will have a support structure where they will call the on-consultant doctor at first. That would be escalated to our consultant who has been allocated to the Nightingale facility, which is Dr Mor our cardiologist,” said matron Ms Cerisola.

“One doctor for 24 hours initially for our first 30 beds. Nursing-wise we have six nurses during the day plus myself the matron or Sarah the acting matron. At night at the moment for 30 beds we have four nurses.”

“Depending on when we start opening, because we will open up 30 beds at a time, we will be requesting to our silver command for extra staff to be able to man those beds,” she added.

The Europa Nightingale Hospital will be receiving the lowest risk patients and there is a triage system that has already been set up that will identify the patients who could go to the facility to be cared for. This system is being dealt with by St Bernard’s Hospital.

“The nurses that are here are general nurses, we have a GHA group of nurses, so Natasha and myself, two sisters from the GHA and three highly experienced GHA nurses,” said acting matron Ms Smith.

“They will be in charge of teaming the agency nurses that were flown over from the UK, again some staff nurses and some health care assistants,” she added.

Ms Cerisola stressed that people would be receiving the highest quality of care at the facility.

“The difference between being here or being at home is here you are going to get excellent nursing care, you are going to have your doctor 24/7, you are going to have your oxygen, your compressors, the emergency equipment, emergency medication,” she said.

“Here we will be taking care of you and you will have all the support structures in place to be able to take care of patients and prepare them for discharge, so the discharge process is done in a safe and controlled manner.”

Should a patient’s health deteriorate while at the facility, they will be transported to St Bernard’s Hospital where there are ventilators and intensive care capabilities.

Ms Cerisola noted they have a very good relationship and support from the nurse management team, adding that the field hospital had a team of very experienced nurses.

“If we need to request more senior nurses to attend the Nightingale facility, we just need to request it to silver command and we will have them immediately,” she said.

The nurses will be working 12 hour shifts and the matrons will be working for eight hours, five days a week. But, if the demand increases for the facility, the nursing team has the flexibility to change its hours.

“If we are needed to be here for 24 hours, we will be here just to make sure our patients get the best possible care we can achieve within the facility,” said Ms Smith.

The vast majority of the equipment within the facility was in Gibraltar and was procured by Sandie Gracia, director of nursing and ambulance services, who is currently deployed and responsible for direct links with the military.

Other items were ordered, others came from the military and some of the oxygen stands were made from scratch in a matter of days by Stuart Bensadon and his team, who were in charge of setting up the facility.

“I would like to highlight that whatever equipment we need or whatever we need, we always highlight it to silver command and they always bring equipment or anything we need within hours,” said Ms Cerisola.

“We are very well supported by our nurse management team and also by Government,” she added.

The matron also had a message for the residents of Gibraltar.

“Wash your hands.”

“Social distancing. Stay home and stay safe.”

“Please help us help you.”

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