As the Covid-19 pandemic loomed, the staff at one hospital in the English Midlands braced themselves. Quickly they found themselves at the centre of a coronavirus hotspot – and nothing turned out as they anticipated.
Liz Rees sat down at her dining room table to take the call. It was a Sunday in early March and, from down the line, a voice was telling her about some test results that had just come back from the lab.
This wasn’t a normal diagnosis. Liz Rees Dudley, the town where Liz has worked for 20 years as a consultant microbiologist, had its first case of Covid-19. That, in itself, wasn’t a surprise. She’d watched on TV as the virus had spread from Asia to continental Europe before reaching the south of England; it had already been detected in nearby Birmingham and Wolverhampton. "The was an inevitability about it," she says. "But the first one makes it real."
Liz’s was the doctor in charge of infection prevention and control at Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley. She’d spent her career anticipating what to do in the event of a pandemic. And she knew the town – a one-time industrial powerhouse, the capital of the Black Country – intimately. Her husband joked she was attached to an elastic band that wouldn’t stretch more than 10 miles out of Quinton, the nearby Birmingham suburb where she was brought up. Still sitting in her dining room, Liz hastily convened an incident meeting over the phone with hospital staff. There was a list of things to check: That the patient was receiving the best possible care. That the staff on […]