Our Theatre team share new role in intensive care helping colleagues care for Covid-19 patients

Lawrie, Simon, and John, socially distanced

Lawrie, Simon and John

Across the NHS, innovation and transferring skills has been pivotal in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. As routine day surgeries are postponed, three colleagues in our theatres have found a new role in intensive care.

Operating department practitioners (ODPs) Simon Peck and John Leaver, and operating department orderly Lawrie Turner have been helping colleagues in intensive care with ‘proning’ Covid-19 patients, which means turning them onto their front to assist their breathing.

They’ve even been called upon to help train colleagues in the procedure.

Simon, also a practice education facilitator so is used to training others, said: “We’re proning patients daily in theatres, for things such as spinal surgeries, so we’re well-versed at it and it seemed natural for us to do it.

“The idea came from our Intensive Care team and we’ve just made some slight adjustments. We’re used to doing different stuff as our jobs can change on a daily basis and we need to be adaptable. While we couldn’t have predicted this, it’s just another thing for us to do.”

It’s also given Simon, Lawrie and John, who have worked together for almost a decade, a renewed sense of purpose at a challenging time.

John, who’s worked at the Trust since 1989, added: “As routine surgeries have been postponed while we deal with this, it meant we weren’t as busy as we usually would be. So it feels better to be able to go and do this. We’re doing what we normally do, but a little bit differently.

“It’s really nice to be able to work with other teams. We’re working in ITU daily and it’s remarkably calm with everyone working together. We also get to see the strengths of other colleagues too, like how much our physios are doing for our patients.”

Their usual roles see them supporting our colleagues in theatres, ensuring equipment is ready, machines are tested and everything is safe for our patients ahead of their operations.

Lawrie said: “Our work can be physically and mentally challenging, especially now. So it’s great that we have a good social side in our team. We sit and eat lunch together and take time to talk to one another. Of course there are times it can be stressful at the moment so we’re really supporting each other.”

Pictured above l-r are Lawrie, Simon and John.

For those missing our weekly In Conversation With interviews, we also quizzed Lawrie, Simon and John about how they got into their roles, their hobbies (Lawrie plays the bagpipes!), and personal lives. You can read more below.

Simon, 33, lives in Chelmsford with wife Amy

How did you start your career?

I actually started working in a money exchange at an airport, but I didn’t like it. My mum worked at Basildon Hospital so she encouraged me to look for roles there.

I started out in sterile services, helping to process and clean instruments for theatres, it was there that I visited the theatres and found out about the operating department practitioner role (ODP).

What do you like getting up to outside work?

Socialising, travelling, all the things we can’t do right now! We just got back from Costa Rica three weeks before lockdown started. We were lucky we came back when we did, or we could have been stuck out there.

Lawrie, 35, lives in Brentwood

Was working in a hospital always your ambition?

I actually have a background in construction, however, it was really slow during the recession and I became a porter at Queen’s Hospital.

I got to know people and I found out about this job as an operating department orderly. I fell into it really but I really enjoy it as it’s so varied. I help with delivering instruments, sending them for sterilization and patient positioning.

Tell us more about your interest in playing the bagpipes!

My mum’s side of the family is Scottish and my granddad played them – it’s just in the family. I play in a band and we practice every week. We’ve played at events in Brentwood, like for Armistice Day.

John, 57, lives in Brentwood with wife Lara and 13-year-old daughter Jasmine

Did you always want to be an ODP?

I did a few different things first. I was interested in science at school but wasn’t really sure what to do. I had a friend who was a medical secretary who suggested this role. I hadn’t known about it before.

What do you do in your spare time?

I play the ukulele and guitar. I have sung in choirs too although I’m not in one at the moment. My wife is and I think I’ll be joining hers soon. I also love food and drink.

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