"Fridges for Cystic Fibrosis patients"

About: Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital

(as the patient),

I am writing as a patient with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and a regular inpatient at G54, with my last admission in September this year.

Firstly, I would like to sincerely express my thanks to ALL the wonderful staff on Ward G54 and the CF team that work together as a collaborative team. It makes an admission so much more bearable knowing you have a supportive and kind team around you.

I am writing this patient opinion as a representative for people that have CF and attend G54 for their treatments. A few years back patient fridges, which were supplied by Cystic Fibrosis WA, were removed from the ward.

We believe fridges are essential for storing much-needed foodstuffs, drinks and medications. Having CF, a crucial part of our treatment during a hospital admission is the need for extra calories, especially as weight loss is critical around this time. Each time I am in hospital I lose approximately three kilograms on my already low weight of 41.5kg. Below are some additional reasons for fridges:

Hospital meals can be delivered at critical times in patient care, such as sleeping periods or during medical treatment

Storage is essential for extra food items such as high-calorie snacks and drinks (snacks are essential in weight gain in CF)

Family/friends required to supply high-calorie meals to assist with weight maintenance.

Many patients not enjoying or refusing to eat hospital food (despite the best efforts of an additional CF diet)

Cross infection risk issues in leaving hospital room, especially those patients with high-risk microbes

Not being able to access a communal ward fridge and even if this was the case there has been a history of food going missing and cross infection issues

Currently having to call for a nurse for ice (to cool drinks) or obtain refrigerated medications and high-calorie drinks

I have spoken to the Charge Nurse about this situation on several occasions only to be told it is an infection control issue, as well as not wanting them in the ward as they are too much of an issue - i.e. space, OH&S, foodstuffs left in fridges in the past and cleaning.

I would like to address the issues that have been raised:

Space - we can obtain fridges that are small and take up minimal room to reduce the impact on ward staff.

OH&S - Hospital Orderly’s transfer the fridges and I believe it is a requirement all staff complete yearly essential training. A trolley can be supplied for easy transport.

Cleaning - as part of equipment surely the cleaner completing the essential clean between patients can clean.

Foodstuffs left in the fridge in the past - have a sign made up asking CF patients to please throw out any unused foodstuffs.

Infection Control Policy - being a nurse myself, I am not aware of this policy and could not locate the policy. If there is a policy, I would like to add that it is more dangerous to leave foodstuffs out and a CF patient could acquire food poisoning being extremely detrimental to their health.

I recently conducted a survey amongst people with CF around Australia, and from the responses I received, it seems that G54 is the only ward that does not have fridge storage’s facilities available whether it is a personal or communal fridge.

The following applies to various hospitals around Australia:

Perth Children’s Hospital - personal fridges

Royal Prince Alfred - communal fridge (also have communal rooms)

Prince Charles Brisbane - small fridge in the room & communal kitchen with microwave

John Hunter Newcastle - fridges in each room

Gold Coast University Hospital - mini bar fridges and microwaves

Royal Hobart - personal fridges & communal microwave

Westmead - communal kitchen

Royal Adelaide Hospital- personal fridges

After speaking with numerous people with CF, we believe the fridges should be available for our admissions to Ward G54.

I have spoken personally with CF Consultants Dr Anna and Dr Siobhain as well as CF Nurse Practitioner Sue, Dietitian Jordan and Cystic Fibrosis WA who have given full support and permission to include them in this application for the return of fridges being available to CF patients on Ward G54.

If permission is granted for the fridges to be reinstated, the fridges will be supplied at no expense to SCGH.

Responses

Response from Geraldine Carlton, A/Executive Director Sir Charles Gairdner Osborne Park Health Care Group, Sir Charles Gairdner Osborne Park Health Care Group

picture of Geraldine Carlton

Dear CF Fridges,

Thank you very much for writing on behalf of Cystic Fibrosis patients who attend Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. Thank you also for your expression of thanks to the supportive team on G54 who care for CF patients – this is greatly appreciated and I will pass this onto them.

I acknowledge and appreciate the extensive background work that you have done to explore the possibility and benefits of having personal fridges on the ward for CF patients. Unfortunately, we are not able to have fridges in patient rooms (in any area of the hospital) for a number of reasons. Most importantly, these are in relation to fridge temperature monitoring, and fridge management and maintenance. Both of these issues raise safety risks for the patients and do not comply with our Food Safety and Infection Control Policies. To a lesser degree, but also importantly, the fridges do take up space in an already tight room and pose occupational risk for staff in this instance.

I have been advised by senior staff in the area that our service has several plans in place to assist and support the specific dietary requirements of CF patients including a specific diet/menu with a selection of high calorie foods; 3 times daily meal service plus twice daily snack delivery (as well as chilled high calorie drink supplement delivery); and availability of shelf stable high calorie supplements/snacks. Your relatives or friends are welcome to bring in additional food and/or drinks. However, for food safety reasons it is not permitted to bring in items that require
re-heating or refrigeration.

Thank you once again for taking the time to raise this and I am sorry that I am not able to provide the answer you were hoping for. Please be reassured that patient safety and quality is our number one priority at SCGH and it is for these reasons that the Food Safety and Infection Control policies are in place.

I appreciate the opportunity to provide this information to you on behalf of all CF patients we care for.

Kind regards

Geraldine Carlton

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