Staff at Trinity Hospice in Blackpool stood and clapped as one of their patients was discharged three weeks after she was admitted to spend her final days in their care, and having made an incredible recovery from Covid-19.
Patricia Wallace, 85, was admitted to the hospice after spending three weeks at Blackpool Victoria Hospital where she was diagnosed with the virus. As her health deteriorated, doctors told her she was unlikely to survive and should think about where she would like to spend her last days.
Between states of unconsciousness, Patricia chose to go to Trinity Hospice, where she was even given her last rites.
But she began to recover and, against all odds tested negative for the virus, which meant she was well enough to be discharged.
Staff have put the recovery down to her sheer determination, but Patricia says it is Trinity’s doctors and nurses who are solely responsible for the uplift in her health.
“It’s them, talking to me all the time, even when I was unconscious, that got me through,” she said. “I simply wouldn’t be here without them.”
Patricia was initially taken to hospital after having a fall at home and breaking her wrist. Once there she was diagnosed with severe anaemia, given two blood transfusions and IV antibiotics, and returned home a week later with her arm in a plaster cast. After two days, she developed a cough.
She said: “It was a dreadful, dreadful cough. I’m sure they could hear me at the end of the street.
“I had some awareness of Coronavirus as it had been on the news, but I didn’t think of it when I was coughing. I was having carers in twice a day after my fall, and as soon as they saw me, they knew I would have to go to hospital.
“As soon as I got there, they said I had it. I was so poorly, and developed pneumonia as well. They put a mask on my face and it was just horrendous. I knew I was going to die.
“Before I left hospital I didn’t know where I was or even who I was. When they asked me where I wanted to be at the end, I just said the hospice. I thought it would be a quiet and peaceful place to die.
“For two days, I really was on my way out of this world. I remember thinking ‘just let me fall asleep. I’m ready’. I wasn’t scared. I just wanted it to be over because I was so ill.
“But I was never left alone, and the amazing staff at the hospice were talking to me all the time; getting me through. Everyone thought I had just days left, but they never wrote me off. It was like they were cheering me on.”
Patricia says staff at the hospice have done everything she’s asked of them, no matter how big or small. Trinity works closely with care homes across Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre; advising staff and helping provide a smooth transition from the hospice, and they have arranged for her to stay temporarily in a care home near to where she lives while she waits for work to be carried out at her house.
Patricia added: “I always thought hospices were a place for people to spend their final days and staff just left you to go in peace. How wrong I was. This place is a miracle, plain and simple. I can’t praise it enough even if I stood on the rooftop and shouted it.”
In April, Trinity bosses increased the number of beds on the Inpatient Unit and relaxed the hospice’s admission criteria to support the discharge of more frail elderly patients from Blackpool Victoria Hospital to receive end of life care at the hospice. The move helped to ease pressure on hospital beds as more and more people were being diagnosed with Covid-19 each day.
Medical Director Dr Gill Au said: “Patricia is our third such patient to go home. That’s three people who came in specifically for end of life care, yet they have recovered and gone home. Our whole local health and social care system has worked incredibly hard together to ensure the best possible care and support for affected patients and families through this dreadful Covid-19 emergency. Patricia’s recovery is testament to this fantastic collaborative effort.
“Certainly, when Patricia came to us she was really quite poorly and it was absolutely right that she was with us for end of life care. She just seemed to pick up and slowly started to get better.
“She really is a lovely lady who is just full of spirit and character, and our teams, including me, have really enjoyed speaking to her and hearing her stories while she has been with us.
“We know Patricia’s home isn’t quite suitable for her to go home to as work needs to be carried out, so we arranged for her to go to a care home which is just down the road from where she lives and close to all her friends, who have been visiting each day and helping to care for her beloved dog while she has been with us.”
In a strange twist of fate, Patricia, a trained nurse who ended up teaching at Blackpool Victoria Hospital in the 1970s, was involved in fundraising for the hospice with its founder, Dr David Cooper before it opened 35 years ago this year.
“I remember there was a huge team of us who would go around places with white tins with big blue writing on to get money to build the hospice,” she said.
“Dr Cooper was so passionate to get the hospice built, and everyone was involved. I don’t think any of us could have imagined back then it would be the incredible place that it is today. I certainly would never have thought I would be here, at 85, sitting in one of these beds about to go home.”
Now Patricia is keen to spread her positivity to others. She said: “All you hear on the news is how elderly people with underlying health issues will die of this disease. Well, I have more underlying health issues than anyone, having had a heart attack five years ago and macular degeneration, and I have come out the other side of it.
“It is thanks completely to the amazing staff at the hospice. They are the reason I am here today.”
For more information visit Trinity Hospice