Milton Keynes hospital bosses break their silence about coronavirus death
Milton Keynes hospital has broken its silence to speak about the death of a patient with coronavirus.
Hospital chiefs released a statement just before 10pm on Friday, more than 10 hours after the story appeared in the MK Citizen.
They said: "Sadly, we can confirm that a man in his early 80s being cared for at Milton Keynes University Hospital has died. The man, who had underlying health conditions, tested positive for coronavirus shortly before his death on Thursday, March 5."
They added: "His family has been informed and our thoughts and condolences are with them at what is undoubtedly a difficult and distressing time.
“The hospital continues to work with Public Health England to isolate any patients or staff who had contact with the patient. All services and appointments at the hospital are running normally. The Trust is following established guidelines to minimise the risk of the virus spreading.
"We will not be commenting further and ask that the family’s privacy is respected."
The 88-year-old patient had underlying health conditions and had just returned from a Caribbean cruise. He was admitted to a ward, understood to be Ward 1, on Tuesday with suspected pneumonia. He spent "six or seven hours" on the ward during which time he had a number of visitors, say sources.
"He was coughing excessively and another patient in the ward had complained to a nurse that should be checking him for coronavirus... The nurse told him not to worry about it and that he is being dealt with," said one source.
Later that day, the patient was removed from the ward and put in isolation in a side room on Ward 2.
A family source said. "When family turned up on Wednesday to visit him, they were informed that he had been put into isolation and was being tested for the coronavirus. They were made to wear suits in order to visit him and were only allowed in two at a time."
The hospital says the patient was tested for the virus following a "review" by intensive care clinicians, in line with a request from NHS England and NHS Improvement to all Intensive Care Units and Severe Respiratory Failure (ECMO) centres to commence coronavirus case detection.
Last night (Thursday) at approximately 7pm, family members received a telephone call from the hospital saying that he had tested positive for the virus. They were advised to self isolate.
Shortly afterwards they were told he had sadly died
By Friday morning, a statement from health chiefs had gone out to city councilors and medical professionals saying there had been a "likely" case of coronavirus at the MK hospital. It asked them to keep the information confidential and reassured them that a deep clean had taken place.
It added: "An extensive contact tracing exercise is now underway to trace anyone who might have had close (face-to-face) contact with the patient. A small number of affected staff have been advised to self-isolate for 14 days.
"Close contacts to the patient will be given health advice about symptoms and emergency contact numbers to use if they become unwell in the next 14 days. This tried and tested method will ensure that any risk to them is minimised and the wider public is protected."
However, the patient's grieving family is now concerned that the hospital, which has special outside 'testing pods' in place for suspected cases of coronavirus, did not act quickly enough. and may have put other people at risk.
A family member has told the Guardian: “Our concern is that the hospital were too slow to detect that our relative had symptoms similar to those of coronavirus and too slow to move him from a ward into isolation, and that that may have put a lot of people – fellow patients on the ward, staff who were looking after him and visitors who came to see him – at risk of contracting the virus from him.
“We think they should have put him into isolation right away, as soon as he arrived, given his symptoms. That was a failure by the hospital. He was coughing a lot and had quite severe symptoms.
“Despite that, he was put on a ward with lots of other sick patients for six or seven hours before he was moved into isolation. During that time a lot of relatives came to see him, both adults and children. Who knows if any of them have now got coronavirus and are maybe spreading it to older people who might get sick?”