Award-winning actor Miriam Margolyes cast magic and laughter at Croydon University Hospital this week as she opened a therapeutic garden and a transformed stroke unit.
The star of Harry Potter spent time chatting to patients and staff before declaring the unit – which provides expert care and recovery from potentially life-threatening strokes – officially open.
“This is actually very personal for me because my mother had a stroke,” Margolyes said.
“I know it first-hand that a stroke is not what it sounds like. It sounds like a caress but it is actually being cut down, it is being felled, it is being practically destroyed – but what the team does here is put people back together again and give them a chance to be themselves once more.
“The tenderness that the staff in Croydon show towards their patients and the joy they have in restoring health to people gladdens my heart.
“This is why I was thrilled to open this wonderful new stroke facility at Croydon University Hospital and why I am so immensely proud of our NHS.”
Described as at the very “forefront of stroke therapy”, the new unit includes 26 beds, a gym, therapy room and an outpatient clinic to enable doctors, nurses and therapists to provide holistic care and recovery support for stroke survivors in one place.
Every room is designed to be accessible even to the most severely impaired, with wheelchair-friendly shower facilities and ceiling track hoists which allow for greater dignity and ease of movement for patients. A spacious roof-top garden doubles as an outdoor therapy space to aid patients in their recovery and treatment.
Dr Enas Lawrence, the lead stroke consultant at Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, said, “Croydon is one of the hardest-hit areas in England for stroke and Transient Ischaemic Attacks, which can often signal that a bigger and potentially more devastating stroke is on the way… Much like Harry Potter, our old TIA clinic existed in a broom cupboard. Now, we have the spacious facility that our patients and staff deserve.
“Designed by our clinicians in discussion with our patients, every aspect – inside and out – has been built to help people get better and get back to their lives. From the bright and airy gym that helps patients regain their strength and independence, to the private roof-top garden where patients and their families can escape the grind of being in hospital to help their recovery bloom.
“It really is rather swish, giving our stroke unit a penthouse vibe to the Thornton Heath skyline.”
The state-of-the-art unit is the latest development in the £15million modernisation services at Croydon University Hospital that will see the size of the borough’s only Critical Care Unit increase by half, with the latest equipment and facilities to ensure patients can receive the highest standards of life-dependent care in their local hospital. The Critical Care Unit is expected to open in autumn next year.
Stroke inflicts someone in England every five minutes and can affect anyone of any age.
High levels of deprivation and the prevalence of conditions like diabetes makes Croydon one of the hardest-hit areas in country, with around 30,000 people living in the borough with heart and circulatory diseases.
For advice on the signs and symptoms and what to do in the event of a stroke, visit www.nhs.uk
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