An imaginative team from Kettering General Hospital (KGH) who used a fast food trailer to help provide a drive-through testing service to hundreds of clinically vulnerable patients during the pandemic has won a national award. The anticoagulation team has set up the INR drive-thru for patients who need regular testing while taking the blood thinner warfarin – used to treat serious heart and lung conditions.
They have now received a Cavell Star Award from the prestigious Cavell Nurses’ Trust for how their dedicated team has worked together to provide care for their patients in such an innovative way. At the start of the pandemic, and before vaccines were available, thousands of INR patients across the country were advised to shield themselves because they were at risk of dying or becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.
Many of these patients were very nervous about going to the hospital for their regular tests. So the anticoagulation team’s response was to develop a drive-thru using a fast food trailer in one of its parking lots. Tess Page, chief nurse for anticoagulation, who nominated her team for the award, said: “When the pandemic hit, it was vital that we continued to provide blood tests to our patients who are receiving warfarin – but at the same time, these were patients who needed shielding because they were so clinically vulnerable.
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“We opted for a drive-thru and were one of the first hospitals in the country to do so on March 29, 2020. We wanted to be in an open car park but still had a place where we could keep our papers, wash our hands, put away equipment and PPE, and protect yourself from the weather.
“And that’s where the fast food trailer came in. It allowed people to drive into the parking lot of the hospital’s diabetes center and have thumbstick blood samples taken in their car.
“We then use a portable scan device to give them their result – with a follow-up phone appointment if further support is needed.” The fast food trailer also added a bit of humor to patient appointments.
Tess said: “Some of our patients have felt lonely and isolated during the pandemic and being able to chat with a nurse and take their test has made them feel much better. I’m so proud of how the anticoagulation team pulled together to set up the drive-thrus.
“Using the fast food trailer also added a bit of humor to the situation. They were saying things like ‘can I have chips with my test’. It made us all smile.”
The pandemic has been a testing time for the hospital’s anticoagulation team as COVID-19 has had a terrible effect on their patients. Tess said: “We know a lot of our patients well because they come to see us so often – sometimes twice a week.
“Unfortunately COVID-19 has taken its toll and we have lost quite a few. It has had an impact on us.
“But the drive-thru helped us keep them as safe as possible. During the period we operated on him – between March 2020 and June 2021 – we supported more than 1,400 patients.
“Our patients were very grateful for the service and our staff worked very hard, in all weathers, to provide it.” KGH has received inquiries about its service from trusts across England, including one in Bradford, where a clinical nurse specialist set up an INR drive-thru clinic in the back of an old ambulance.
Cavell Star Award organizer Paul Steiner said, “We were delighted to receive the nomination for the Anticoagulation Team at Kettering General Hospital. The team clearly recognized their patients’ concerns and found a very innovative way to address them.
“They really went above and beyond and that’s what the Cavell Star Awards are here to celebrate. KGH Director of Nursing and Quality, Fiona Barnes, added: “I am delighted the team has won this award and I commend them all for the way they have supported their patients during the pandemic.
“They looked at a real problem, found an innovative solution, and then made it happen for their patients. A true demonstration of our core value of providing compassionate patient care. A pharmacist in Amersham also asked how to set up a drive-thru for his ward, while KGH has maintained anticoagulation care throughout the pandemic, including home visits for some of its INR-tested patients .
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