Lake-side tonic for critical care patients

Mr Edwards

Mr Edwards

Captions:1) Patients do like to be beside the lake-side: Stuart Edwards relaxes by the lake outside the main entrance of Colchester General Hospital. He is with critical care nurse Sara Simoncini and his nephew Ben Edwards.

2) Mr Edwards begins his return journey to the Critical Care Unit, which is located on the first floor of the main building at Colchester General Hospital. He is with his nephew Ben Edwards and critical care nurses Sara Simoncini and Gap Peros.

21 August 2017

On a warm summer’s day, it’s not only staff and visitors who can sit and relax by the lake outside the main building at Colchester General Hospital.

If they are well enough, patients on the Critical Care Unit are wheeled there in their beds by nurses to enjoy the great outdoors.

One recent example has been Stuart Edwards, aged 62, of Colchester, who was on the unit for 33 days after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a very rare and serious condition that affects the nerves.

“It was one of the consultants who suggested that I was well enough to go outside if the weather was right, and I jumped at the chance,” he said.

“During my time in Critical Care, I went out to the lake on a few occasions and it was brilliant to feel the sun on my face.

“I would spend about half-an-hour outside with staff – it was something I really looked forward to and it helped to break up the day.

“I was very limited in what I could do on the unit so to get outside into the fresh air was a real tonic.”

Sister Karen Baxter from the Critical Care Unit said it had been the unit’s practice for many years to encourage patients who are well enough to get some fresh air in the warmer months.

“Patients in critical care have been very sick and can spend long periods of time within the four walls of the unit,” she said. “It’s easy to see why patients lose track of time and what’s going on in the world.

“Being able to get out into the fresh air helps patients realise they are getting better and that there is a life beyond the unit.

“Staff enjoy seeing the ducks as they come and go to the hospital and we believe taking our patients out ‘to see the ducks’ really helps cheer them up.”

Mrs Baxter said that Colchester General Hospital was fortunate to have a picturesque lake located within its grounds.

She estimated that patients from the Critical Care Unit are taken outside approximately 15 times a year and on each occasion they are escorted by at least two members of staff.

Mr Edwards, who worked at BT before he retired, is now back home after spending a total of nine weeks in hospital – at Colchester General Hospital and Clacton Hospital – and is expected to make a full recovery.