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A bereaved family have raised close to £1,000 for the unit and team at Chesterfield Royal Hospital who cared for their loved one after she contracted Covid-19.

Barbara Hallam was 74 years of age when she sadly passed away at the end of October on the Royal’s Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU) after she was taken ill with the virus. Her family wanted to give something back following the care she received on ITU and the compassion shown by those who work there.

Barbara’s daughters, Suzanne Leusby and Tanya Beighton, said: “The care and compassion that they showed her and our family was just incredible. Our Mum was so full of life, always smiling and very young at heart and mind, she just loved other people’s company. Her family was so important to her, she loved to go out to the pub, for a meal or just a coffee with her friends and lived every minute of her life to the full.

“Treated her as a person…”

“That’s why it was such a comfort to us that they treated her as the person that she was, she was never just another patient. For example they would ask us how she liked her hair done and frequently spoke to us face to face about her treatment so that we always knew how she was doing. On one occasion I was given the opportunity of an unplanned visit and it brought a smile to my face to see how clean and styled her hair was, even though they weren’t expecting me to see her. It wasn’t just the clinical care, it was personal and that meant a lot to us.

“I also saw the lengths they had to go through to just to get in and out of the unit. The meticulous care and precision, changing into clean overalls, putting on an oxygen pack and headgear, shoe coverings and gloves that had to be taken on and off in a specific order and in a certain way, washing hands between touching each item and cleaning the reusable items thoroughly. Just coming off the unit to see to us or speak to us on the phone required time and care, all to protect us, my Mum and the other patients. The fact they told us we could ring as often as we wanted was even more meaningful and, to my mind, what makes them so wonderful.”

Sadly Barbara’s condition deteriorated over the course of a week. The time came for the team to contact Suzanne, Tanya and Barbara’s partner Alan to explain the situation and give them the time and opportunity to say their goodbyes.

“Much more than just a job…”

Suzanne added: “I could see and feel the hurt the staff were feeling at not being able to properly console us; in all our PPE we couldn't even hug each other. The nurse who stayed with Mum until the end was so caring and it was plainly obvious this was much more than just a job for all of them. 

“I can't imagine how emotionally draining and tiring this year has been for them but despite that, she was there for us as a family giving us each a handmade heart, including for my two children, who have been devastated by the loss of their Mama at such a young age. Mum was also given a handmade heart from her nurse which was laid to rest with her. 

“Just a few weeks before, Mum was full of life and making plans for Christmas, so it all came as such a shock in a relatively short space of time. Losing a love one is so hard to come to terms with but the care that we have all received has meant the world to us in such difficult and unique times.”

Barbara also worked at the hospital for ten years between 1990 and 2000 as an Assistant Technical Officer. She helped to supply GP surgeries throughout North Derbyshire as well as visiting local community hospitals to check their drug and medicine supplies. Her family have been raising the money for the Chesterfield Royal Charity and specifically the ITU team, to recognise the care and compassion shown by the unit in Barbara’s memory.

“An amazing lady…”

Tanya said: “Unfortunately we weren’t able to give Mum the send-off she would have wanted due to COVID-19 restrictions and were restricted to only a handful of people being able to attend the funeral. This was incredibly difficult as Mum was such a popular lady, and so many people wanted to come and pay their respects and share stories of their time with mum but weren’t able to. 

“So instead of flowers, we set up a fundraising page for people to pay tribute in memory of mum. We weren’t expecting to raise as much as we have but, due to the generosity of people, we are so pleased to be able to give something back to the staff who gave so much time, effort and care to our Mum when she needed it most. We hope that this tribute will give her the recognition she deserves of being an amazing lady and celebrate the life she lived and the person she was.” 

On behalf of everyone at the Trust, the Chesterfield Royal Charity and the ITU team, we would like to thank Suzanne, Tanya and their family for their generosity, thoughtfulness and kind words during what must be a very difficult time. We would also like to express our sincere condolences to Barbara’s family and friends and wish them all the very best for the future.

If you knew Barbara or would like to support her family’s appeal, then you can do so via their Just Giving page that you can visit by clicking here.