We have always been incredibly proud of the staff that we fund throughout cancer services. Their commitment to their jobs, and more importantly their patients, has always been evident but in recent weeks, they have gone above and beyond for the people they care for.
Like all NHS staff, our team of 38 funded staff have been working incredibly hard during these uncertain times to care for patients. Wonderful people like our Lung Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist, Stephanie Todd.
As well as continuing to offer vital specialist support for her patients with lung cancer, Stephanie has also shared her expertise with the team on the frontline of caring for Covid-19 patients. In March, Stephanie and her colleague, Carol, embarked on a training programme for all medics and nurses working in the Nightingale Hospital (the tower block at Belfast City Hospital), sharing their knowledge and insight into respiratory care for those now battling coronavirus.
Talking about sharing her expert knowledge, Stephanie said: “A key factor in our battle against COVID-19 was bringing together as much knowledge as we could. I was able to use my experience and share techniques that I use in the day to day care of my patients with lung cancer, to advise and train staff working on the frontline of COVID-19, giving them the tools they needed to care for people with the virus.
“One aspect of our training focused on managing the symptoms of those who were hospitalised, but not considered in need of ICU care. This included advising on pain relief, ways to ease coughs, controlling very high temperatures, as well as advising on what drugs could make patients more comfortable. Sadly, as we know, many people were not able to fight the virus, so another part of our training focused on how staff could make patients as comfortable as possible in their final days.
“I have nothing but admiration for the staff who were working directly with patients with coronavirus. They worked tirelessly, ensuring they could provide the best care for every one of their patients.”
As well as training staff working with patients with COVID-19, Stephanie also continued to provide expert care to her own patients with lung cancer throughout lockdown.
“It was a really worrying time for patients – the fear of a respiratory virus when you have lung cancer understandably made so many of them anxious. We continued to support them all through lockdown, adapting how we delivered treatment, care and support with more phone calls and remote support taking the place of face to face consultations. However, we got through it and I’m now looking towards resuming all of our clinics in both the Cancer Centre and Mater Hospital, which feels like a really positive step forward.
“I feel proud that I have been able to contribute to Northern Ireland’s COVID-19 response. I’m also very thankful to Friends of the Cancer Centre and the charity’s amazing supporters. I never could have imagined that my post would be needed in a pandemic, but if it wasn’t for the charity my post would not be here. Not only would my lung cancer patients be affected, but so too would all those who have been affected by COVID-19.”