MEDICS on the frontline of the coronavirus fight in IRH say the hospital came close to being overwhelmed at the peak of the outbreak.

Dr Abby Gunn, a stroke consultant, and nurse Eilidh Jack have both played vital roles along with their colleagues throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

Dr Gunn says the deadly infection spread throughout the area a full two weeks before the national lockdown.

She said: “Covid arrived early in Inverclyde.

"Our first case we saw in hospital tested positive on March 12 – two weeks ahead of lockdown – and by that time it had spread through the community.

“I think there was a real sense of: ‘Actually, this is real. We need to get organised and get ready for this.’

"With the first wave of patients that we got, there was fear – fear of the unknown, fear of how bad it was going to be, fear for our patients that weren’t going to make it.

"What kind of deaths would they have and would we be able to make them feel better and give them a good death?"

Dr Gunn, interviewed for STV show Scotland Tonight, gave an insight into how dire the situation became at one point.

She said: “As we were early in high peak here, we were very close to being overwhelmed and at one point at the peak of our pandemic there were only Covid patients admitted to the hospital.

"Every ward and every room that you went to had Covid-19 in the hospital.

“We saw this coming months in advance, yet we were still doing some of the real-time planning after we had the first positive case.

"I think it’s a real lesson about global health.”

Her colleague says the speed and scale of the outbreak here left staff feeling intense pressure and worried that the hospital would not be able to cope.

Ms Jack said: “Within Inverclyde, we seemed to be hit quick, and there was unprecedented numbers within Inverclyde even before lockdown.

“At one point, we were nearly at capacity within the intensive care unit and that brought a lot of worry.

"Where would other patients go if they had to be admitted?

"Everybody was stressed – they were worried about their family and worried about what they would come into.

“It was so different to what we were used to.

"We didn’t really have a lot of information.

"We were taking a lot of information from other countries around the world, so we didn’t really know what to expect.”

The staff praised their colleagues for their hard work and the superb care they provided patients.

A total of 118 people from the area have died as a result of coronavirus, with 66 of them dying in hospital.

The district has the worst death rate in the whole of the country at 15 per 10,000 people.

A report has been commissioned into those bleak statistics and this week Inverclyde was left reeling once again after a new cluster of cases was reported from a Port Glasgow pharmacy, along with a positive test at the huge Amazon plant in Gourock.



KEY ROLE Dr Abby Gunn. Pic credit: STV