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HomeHealthNorthwick Park Hospital worker is unsung Ebola preparation hero

Northwick Park Hospital worker is unsung Ebola preparation hero

Marion, a dedicated administrative assistant at Northwick Park Hospital, has earned herself a special status in clinical circles despite not recognising many of her admirers.

Twice a year, Marion plays a pivotal role in an emergency planning exercise at the hospital, where she assumes the character of a healthcare worker recently returned from Africa, displaying symptoms of Ebola.

Marion’s unique perspective offers valuable insights into the world of healthcare, even though she has personally survived six encounters with one of the world’s deadliest viruses.

“It’s an interesting experience because I get to see what clinical staff do,” Marion shared. She is often stopped by colleagues in the hospital corridors the day after the exercise, who greet her warmly, but she struggles to recognise them due to the personal protective equipment (PPE) they wear during the exercise.

Northwick Park Hospital worker is unsung Ebola preparation hero Harrow Online
Image: London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust

The primary objective of this exercise is to help the infectious diseases team at Northwick Park Hospital prepare for a real-life event, similar to one that occurred several years ago when a suspected Ebola patient was temporarily brought to the hospital from Heathrow Airport.

Colin McDonnell, Head of Emergency Preparedness, Resilience, and Response at the trust, noted the significance of these drills, stating, “Northwick Park is one of seven specialist regional infectious diseases’ centers, so we would, in all likelihood, have to handle this type of situation. We saw during the pandemic just how quickly things can escalate, so practice really does make perfect.”

Apart from assisting the infectious diseases team, the exercise also allows various other hospital departments to rehearse their roles in the event of an incident. This includes security, patient transport services, and waste management, who practice clearing corridors and lifts for incoming patients, as well as disposing of contaminated materials.

These coordinated efforts ensure that Northwick Park Hospital is well-prepared to respond to infectious disease emergencies effectively.


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