Today (Thursday 17 March) marks two years since doctors and nurses at The James Cook University Hospital admitted their first patient with COVID-19 and a top Teesside doctor is using the anniversary to remind people who have not come forward for their COVID vaccine that it is OK to change their mind and get protected.
In December 2020, James Cook became one of first COVID-19 hospital hubs in the world to begin vaccinating patients and one year later (December 2021) one of the first in first in the region to offer new antibody and antiviral treatments to eligible patients when they first test positive for coronavirus.
David Reaich, deputy chief medical officer at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “The last two years have had a huge impact and I cannot say enough in praise of all our amazing nurses, midwives, doctors, allied health professionals, scientific teams, administrative, support staff and volunteers who have moved mountains to help patients service users and each other.
“Treating over 6,000 patients with COVID-19 has inevitably had an impact but the measures our experienced clinicians took at the start of the pandemic to separate our hospitals into COVID and non-COVID areas has meant colleagues have been able to continue caring for patients with other health needs that are equally urgent, while working tirelessly for people whose non-urgent care was disrupted by the pandemic.
“In the last five weeks for example, our surgical teams have delivered more than 3,800 operations, of which almost 2,600 were planned procedures. At the same time, over 71,000 outpatient appointments took place and more than 15,000 people attended our urgent and emergency care services – an increase of almost 5,000 on the same period last year.
Getting your COVID vaccine
He continued: “Two years on from our first patient, our fantastic clinicians are continuing to care for patients with the virus on two wards at James Cook.
“Vaccines remain our first line of defence against the virus, and getting jabbed is one of the best ways we can protect ourselves.
“While restrictions have been eased, COVID is still circulating and puts unvaccinated people at risk.
“We know that people can get COVID again and again and even if it does not make them critically ill, there is still the risk of developing further complications or passing it on to a friend of loved one at higher risk from the virus.”