This was made possible through the British Government’s deployment of its Emergency Medical Team (EMT), which had been in the country for the past nine weeks. The UK government – funded deployment includes experts in emergency medicine, critical care and risk communication and is managed by the UK NGO UK Med.
The nine weeks have been busy for the 10-member British EMT team as they have supported Kilu’ufi, Atoifi, Gizo, Taro and Sasamunga hospitals to prepare them for potential subsequent waves of COVID-19.
During their deployment, assessments have been made at these hospitals to review their capacity and identify areas where they can strengthen the overall capacity of local health facilities and national medical staff.
Following the assessments, the team conducted a training course for trainers on different ways of dealing with patients with COVID-19 for key health personnel at the health facilities, which helped to ensure a long-term effect of the team’s work.
An interdisciplinary approach was used to complete the training, where doctors, nurses and other health professionals were all together for their training sessions. This has been important for integrating patient experiences and can also improve teamwork on the facilities.
The training sessions at Kilu’ufi including mentoring in the workplace took two weeks with an extended stay of three members of the team who last week helped set up a first of its kind High Dependency Unit (HDU) for the hospital.
At Gizo Hospital, Western Province, similar training session was conducted in the morning and afternoon for a week.
The completed training sessions were: Respiration therapy 2 – included response to aggravated patients and recognition of acute respiratory distress syndrome and acute hypoxemic respiratory failure.
Another, respiratory therapy 2 – including initiation of escalation and weaning of oxygen therapy with skill session was also performed along with COVID-19 therapy and clinical care (case management), COVID-19 special situations in pregnancy and children.
Other training sessions also included COVID-19 IPC (infection prevention and control) IP points, ‘intake and take-off’ and hand hygiene, breathing hygiene with skill sessions, triage (sorting of patients based on symptoms) and the role of physiotherapy in COVID -19. These sessions have been crucial in protecting both staff and patients.
The team trained a total of 122 frontline health workers to support their response to COVID-19. After identifying a lack of access to information, or in some places disinformation, about COVID-19 prevention and vaccination, they also met with 58 community leaders as part of their community outreach work to help make reliable and accessible information more readily available.
Three members of the team, now back in the UK, have been staying as part of an expanded deployment at Kilu’ufi Hospital, Malaita Province, for the past two weeks.