14 October 2022

Sailing the English channel for her patients

Ewa Cielepa works in Southampton Children’s Hospital. Now on the Paediatric Medical Unit as a Nursing Associate, she wants to improve the ward environment for her patients. Here’s why:

“On the Paediatric Medical Unit (PMU) we treat patients from birth to 18 years old. We specialise in respiratory services on the main ward, though the unit also houses the paediatric high dependency unit and paediatric neurological high dependency unit.

A lot of our patients depend on long-term ventilation, but we also look after patients with rare genetic disorders, or children in a mental health crisis.

Due to the patient’s condition, the average stay is between one-two months, but some patients can be on the unit for longer periods of time.

The youngest patients might have never left the hospital since birth. It is a very difficult and daunting experience, not only for patients but also for their families.

Some patients require protective isolation, so they cannot leave their rooms. This means that the simple things we take for granted, such a taking a walk, or talking to other patients and families, is not possible.

The ward was recently refurbished, so I want to raise money through Southampton Hospitals Charity to provide entertainment for those in isolation by equipping each cubicle with a smart TV.

The Charity already funds free-of-charge wi-fi access, so the addition of smart TVs means that patients will be able to connect to platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. to have a bit of normality at such a difficult time.

My challenge

Between 23 and 25 September, I took part in a night sailing experience with The Bridge Sailing Team, all experienced sailors. I had very little experience in sailing, so this was a real challenge for me!

Starting from Haslar Marina Gosport, we sailed to Cherbourg Marina in France, before a short rest, then completed the return journey back to the UK overnight.

It was very challenging due to strong winds, and both nights we only used the navigation lights to guide us. The Solent and the English Channel felt totally different under the night sky, it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I am proud to have done this challenge for my patients.

It took us 18 hours to get back to the UK, but the beautiful sunrise was well worth staying up for.”

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