Team members from our High Consequences Infectious Diseases (HCID) department at the Royal travelled to Mater Dei Hospital in Malta recently to share their expert knowledge and experience.
As specialists in their field Dr Libbe Ratcliffe, infection disease consultant and Maz Hoyle, HCID PPE lead nurse, were invited to Malta by Professor Michael A Borg, head of department of infection control and sterile services.
Dr Libbe Ratcliffe said: “The Royal Liverpool University Hospital is one of only four HCID treatment centres in England, which means we have specialist areas where patients can be isolated to ensure any infectious diseases aren’t spread.
“The purpose of a special isolation unit is the complete containment of any airborne or contact HCID. The areas need to have clear pathways, with areas to change (donning) into protective clothing (Personal Protective Equipment - PPE), through to patient rooms with regulated airflow and filtering and on to areas where staff can safely take off the PPE (doffing).”
Our HCID teams must wear specialist personal protection suits that keep our staff safe against infection while treating and testing patients – which also avoids any spread of the disease.
HCIDs are divided into contact diseases such as Ebola and airborne groups such as Monkeypox and MERS (Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome).
The aim of the two-day visit was to share our team’s experience in developing the HCID services at the Royal and explain our knowledge of treating patients with HCID airborne infections, particularly MERS and Monkeypox.
The HCID team arrived in Malta on 22 October, Dr Ratcliffe said: “It was good to visit Mater Dei Hospital so we could see exactly the rooms and equipment they have so we could help them put the best processes in place to prepare for a patient attending with a high consequence infectious disease.
“We carried out simulations and potential patient scenarios explaining how best to transfer patients through the hospital that have come in through A&E to the isolation room. We also advised how we take blood samples and how they’re managed to keep staff and patients safe.”
Additionally, Libbe and Maz gave the team assurances about the safety of the personal protection equipment and the confidence they have in the protection. They took examples of the PPE we use and showed them the different layers. When putting on and taking off the protective clothing our PPE lead specialist Maz offered advice to the team at each stage to ensure there is no spread of infection or contamination.
Dr Ratcliffe said: “Malta is only a small island, but they’re surrounded by a number of countries so there’s a chance of someone arriving with an infectious disease and the medical teams want to be prepared for any possibility.
“We could give the team actual experiences of treating HCID patients with MERS and Monkeypox. We talked through monitoring of the patients, the treatment, the lessons we learnt and the patient experience, as well as any future planning we made after treating a HCID patient.
“This visit has been beneficial for both sides, for example they have CCTV into the room allowing you to monitor the patient and the HCID team in the room along with two-way talking so that is something we could look at introducing in the future in the new Royal.”