After five years of planning, last year a new Medical Enhanced Care Unit (MECU) opened at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
Now, 12 months on, the team is celebrating the support that has been provided for respiratory patients who are being treated at hospital.
Gail Watson, Directorate Manager for the Integrated Medicine & Patient Flow Division at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, reflected on the process of getting the unit open, “the idea of MECU was first brought to me back in 2018 and following several business cases and input from colleagues across the Trust, the unit opened in January 2023 and started treating patients with both respiratory and general medical Level 1 care needs.”
Level 1 care needs refers to patients who are acutely unwell and need increased nursing care alongside consultants with enhanced monitoring and earlier recognition for deteriorating patients. MECU is described as a bridge between a general ward and a Critical Care environment.
Doctor Thomas Bongers, clinical lead for MECU, and his team have seen a reduction in mortality and a reduction in incidents. The unit has also helped to reduce patients’ typical length of stay by ensuring they are being seen at the right place at the right time and in turn improving their experience while in hospital.
Doctor Bongers commented, “In January 2023 we established a combined Respiratory Support and Medical Enhanced Care Unit which is able to not only provide significant advanced non-invasive respiratory support but provides close monitoring facilities for unwell medical patients to enable early intervention in case of deterioration.
“Typical patients for the unit are patients with COPD requiring non-invasive ventilation, patients suffering from severe pneumonia requiring high oxygen concentration support and severely ill medical patients requiring close monitoring and escalation in case of deterioration.
“Due to the centralisation of non-invasive ventilation support on the unit as well as being supported by a highly skilled ventilation team, it is evident that this improved service significantly improved the outcome of our patients.”
Carly Branston, who is also a HCA at the hospital, was admitted onto the unit herself shortly after it opened last year following an illness. She shared her experience, “I was unfortunately admitted to MECU early last year with a bad reaction to medication I’d been taking for an eye condition, which made me neutropenic and develop jaundice, but the main reason at that time was it made me unable to oxygenate my own blood, so I required high flow oxygen.
“I don’t remember a great deal from my time on MECU, but I vividly remember the first couple of days, when I was feeling my worst, that I was treated with such kindness, compassion, and care from all staff without exception, from doctors to Advanced Clinical Practitioners, Matron and all nursing staff.
“I was kept so well informed of what was always happening which I personally found a huge help.
“I have recently worked a few extra shifts on MECU, and I have found they provide this level of care to all patients and their relatives. MECU is simply a dedicated team providing exceptional care for their patients.”