Staff at University Hospital Southampton have launched a new drive through service for vulnerable patients who need sight-saving injections during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most patients who require regular sight-saving injections for age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of vision loss in people over 60, fall into the category of those at a higher risk of needing hospital admission if infected with coronavirus.
Some patients have additional health conditions (comorbidities) which make them extremely vulnerable and are required to ‘shield’, which means they should stay at home at all times and avoid face-to face contact during the lockdown period.
To ensure that patients in this situation are still able to receive their sight-preserving injections, the ophthalmology team at UHS has redesigned its services to reduce the risk in all patients who need the treatment.
This includes a drive through service which sees patients brought to the doors of the eye unit at University Hospital Southampton.
From there they are met by a member of staff who carries out a temperature check and screens them for potential COVID-19 symptoms before they step out of the car.
They are then walked directly to the injection suite to receive their injection before being walked back to their car in a process which takes around 15 minutes.
“We are extremely proud to report the first vulnerable shielded patient injection list for those who are at significant risk of permanent sight loss if their injections are delayed,” said Jo Powell, matron for ophthalmology at UHS.
“It involved a significant team effort from staff in admin, theatres and the medical retinal suite in Southampton, our ophthalmic surgeons and travel department to make it a reality.”
In addition, ophthalmology and theatre staff based at Lymington Hospital have supported the development of an injection list to provide a service for patients closer to home, reducing the number required to make the journey to Southampton.
Jo added: “This is a great example of how services are adapting to the challenges posed by COVID-19 to ensure those patients who need their routine services maintained receive the care they need.”
Although the eye unit at Southampton General Hospital has been locked down in recent weeks to minimise the risk to patients and staff, plans are in place to introduce more services to small groups of patients in the coming weeks.
Aby Jacob, clinical lead for ophthalmology at UHS, said: “Our drive through service is a great innovation for patients and is the first step for us in ensuring patients can continue to access the treatment they need.
“As the eye unit is located in a COVID-free area of the hospital, we are developing plans to restart more services with a low volume of patients – to allow for social distancing – who are at higher risk of visual loss in the coming weeks.”
Posted on Tuesday 28 April 2020