New £2.5 million ICU in York opened by ex-Covid patient who spent six weeks in coma

Gavin Shaw, who spent six weeks in a coma in York's ICU last summer, pictured with his wife Anne-Marie in the new unit
Gavin Shaw, who spent six weeks in a coma in York's ICU last summer, pictured with his wife Anne-Marie in the new unit

A NEW £2.5 million intensive care unit was officially opened today at York Hospital - by a former Covid patient who survived six weeks on a coma.

Gavin Shaw, 43, of Rawcliffe, who has made an 'amazing' recovery after falling critically ill with the coronavirus last summer, cut the ribbon to the modular building, situated next to the existing ICU.

The new unit provides six isolation beds, tripling the number of ICU beds suitable for patients with infectious diseases such as Covid.

Its opening comes as the York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is dealing with a new wave of Covid Omicron patients, with 185 being treated today - five of whom were in intensive care.

The number is only 57 fewer than the peak of 242 Covid patients experienced at the height of the Alpha wave in January last year.

Joe Carter, consultant anaesthetist in critical care, said that throughout the pandemic, there had not been enough isolation facilities.

“In York, in line with much of the country, the only suitable care areas to expand into were operating theatres and post-anaesthesia care units," he said.

"This has had a significant impact on patients as, in addition to the challenge of providing more critical care beds, the loss of theatre space adversely affected surgical patients.

"Theatre throughput was significantly reduced and the reduction in available critical care beds led to cancellation or postponement of many high-risk surgical procedures."

He said the purpose-built intensive care ‘pod’ delivered six lobbied rooms, which should future-proof the intensive care environment for many years to come, allowing for a predicted increase of patients requiring critical care.

"The increase in isolation facilities will triple the number of infectious disease patients who could be managed appropriately within the critical care.”

The unit has been built by York-based modular construction experts Portakabin, with 18 steel framed building modules built at the factory in Huntington and craned into position over three days before a final internal fit out was completed.

Nick Griffin, Divisional Managing Director from Portakabin, said it had a long history of providing vital support to the NHS, and the unique requirements of the healthcare sector for safety, speed and minimisation of disruption were well understood by its experts.

Gavin thanked staff for the help and support he received last summer during 14 weeks in the old ICU, after suffering first from Covid and then two bouts of pneumonia and also then sepsis.

He said that when he came out of an induced coma, he had never felt among strangers because staff were so friendly and welcoming.

His wife Anne-Marie, who herself works at the hospital, said she had been told four times during his stay on intensive care that everything possible had been done for Gavin and it was now down to him, and she said his recovery had been 'amazing.'

The new unit is set to open to patients later this month following cleaning and testing.