4th Jul, 2022

International broadcasters find hope against coronavirus in 'resilient' Coventry

John Carlon 24th Apr, 2020 Updated: 24th Apr, 2020

INTERNATIONAL broadcasters CNN, Sky and the BBC have turned to Coventry to tell the story of communities through coronavirus.

Today (April 24), CNN’s security correspondent Nick Paton Walsh aired a report from University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire on the US network, showing how the NHS is coping with the pandemic.

UHCW consultant Dr Richard Townsend told Mr Paton Walsh: “When my colleagues confess they are scared during this pandemic, I say I’m scared too… the longer this has gone on it’s clear the best we can do is to wear the PPE, and keep our fingers crossed we don’t get it.”

This week (April 21), Sky News screened a report by correspondent Mark Stone, following the work of Good Neighbours, a project distributing food in Coventry.

Working with city churches and food bank network the Trussell Trust, Good Neighbours is ensuring the elderly and vulnerable are supplied through the course of the pandemic.

Coventry Council and MP Taiwo Owatemi are encouraging volunteers to sign up to the Good Neighbours network to help out, with one volunteer, Jackie Kemp, featured in the broadcast as she delivered food to Ali Verney, a blind Coventry resident.

Another beneficiary of Good Neighbours efforts is Phyllis Smith, she told the Observer: “I’m high risk so I’m not allowed to go out, but we have numerous phone calls and the network rings up to see if we need shopping doing.

“We are also receiving a lot of help from the city council and its care centre, to look after our medication. Notes are put through our door and we are well looked after.

“I just hope that when this is all finished, we all continue to be lovely with each other and keep the friendships going. Its not going to last forever, I hope we all continue to be aware of our neighbours.”

In the programme, the Bishop of Coventry Right Rev Christopher Cocksworth suggested the experience of wartime bombings had made Coventry a resilient city: “In wartime you had the same sort of experience we are having today, a deep sense of connectedness and a spirit of help here in the city.”

On Monday (April 20), the BBC’s flagship investigations programme Panorama also broadcast an edition from Coventry, focusing on the work of UHCW as its staff battle the coronavirus pandemic.

BBC reporter Jane Corbin was in Walsgrave to see how the hospital has rapidly adapted to treating coronavirus patients, increasing intensive care capacity from 30 beds to 70.

Critical care consultant Dr Tom Billyard agreed to wear a go-pro camera on the UHCW Covid-19 ward, to document how his team are treating the virus’ patients.

He told Ms Corbin how his team were taking the latest research on coronavirus an implementing it on his ward, including the practice of laying patients on their front.

“We’re suddenly seeing more and more patients who are benefiting from being turned prone”, he said, “but it takes a lot of manpower, at least four or five people, to turn a patient over.”

The emotional impact of the pandemic on staff was also highlighted. The report featured critical care matron Isatu Kargbo, who told Panorama: “The worst day was when our unit had three deaths, it was way too much to bear for all of us.

“Staff were emotionally broken down, and we didn’t know what to do. Its a lot for them to take in a day.”

But Ms Kargbo added how dignity was preserved for patients dying from coronavirus: “The one thing we can assure everybody is that nobody is allowed to die alone. We always sit and hold their hands, with utmost respect given to them.”

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