An imaginative Kettering General Hospital team that used a fast-food trailer to help provide a drive-through testing service for hundreds of clinically vulnerable patients during the pandemic has won a national award.
Our Anticoagulation Team set up the INR Drive-Through Service for patients who need regular tests while taking the blood-thinning drug warfarin – used to treat serious heart and pulmonary conditions.
They have been awarded a Cavell Star Award by the prestigious Cavell nurses’ trust for the way their dedicated team worked together to provide care for their patients in such an innovative way.
At the start of the pandemic, and before vaccinations were available, thousands of INR patients across the country were asked to shield because they were at risk of death or serious illness from COVID-19. Many of these patients were very nervous about travelling into hospital to have their regular tests.
Fast-food trailer helped provide an answer
The Anticoagulation team’s answer was to develop a drive-through service using a fast-food trailer in one of its car parks.
Lead Nurse for Anticoagulation Tess Page, who nominated her team for the award, said: “When the pandemic struck it was vital that we continued to provide blood tests for our patients who receive warfarin – but at the same time these were patients who needed to shield because they were so clinically vulnerable.
“We decided on a drive-through service and were one of the first hospitals in the country to do this on March 29, 2020.
“We wanted to be out in an open car park area but still have a place where we could keep our paperwork, wash our hands, store equipment and PPE, and be protected from the weather.
“And that’s where the fast-food trailer came in. It enabled people to drive into the Diabetes Centre car park at the hospital and have thumb prick blood sample taken in their car.
“We then use a portable analysis device to give them their result – with a follow-up telephone appointment if more support was needed.”
The fast-food trailer also added a bit of humour to patients’ appointments.
Tess said: “Some of our patients felt lonely and isolated during the pandemic and being able to have a chat with a nurse and have their test made them feel much better.
“I am so proud of the way the Anticoagulation team pulled together to make the drive-through services happen
“Using the fast-food trailer also added a bit of humour to the situation. They would say things like ‘can I have chips with my test’. It made us all smile.”
The pandemic was a testing time for the hospital’s anticoagulation team because Covid-19 took a terrible toll on their patients.
Tess said: “We know many of our patients well because they come to us so often – sometimes twice a week. Sadly Covid-19 has taken its toll and we have lost quite a few of them. It has had an impact on us.
“But the drive-through service helped us to keep them as safe as we could. Over the period we operated it - between March 2020 and June 2021 - we supported more than 1,400 patients.
“Our patients were very grateful for the service and our staff worked very hard, in all weathers, to provide it.”
Award was recognition for a great job done
Cavell Star Award organiser Paul Steiner said: “We were delighted to receive the nomination for the Kettering General Hospital Anticoagulation team. The team clearly recognised the concerns of their patients and came up with a very innovative way of addressing them.
“They truly went above and beyond and this is what the Cavell Star Awards are here to celebrate. “
KGH’s Director of Nursing and Quality, Fiona Barnes, said: “I am delighted the anticoagulation team has won this award and congratulate them all for the way in which they have supported their patients during the pandemic.
“They looked at a real issue, came up with an innovative solution, and then made it happen for their patients. A real demonstration of our core value of providing compassionate care to patients.”
The Anticoagulation service at KGH had inquiries about its service from Trusts across England including a trust in Bradford where a Clinical Nurse Specialist set up a INR drive-through clinic in the back of an old ambulance and also from a Pharmacist in Amersham who enquired about how to set up a drive through for her service.
KGH maintained its anticoagulation service throughout the pandemic including home visits for some of its INR test patients – but to have tried to do this for all its 2,500 patients would have led to testing delays.