Clinical Engineering in the South Atlantic

CES was recently contracted to provide cover at King Edward VII Hospital on the Falklands Islands whilst their medical engineers returned home to the UK to attend training courses. Mark Williams a senior engineer at CES volunteered to make the trip.

King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (Referred to as KEMH) is a 29 bed hospital located in the middle of Stanley the capital of the Falkland Islands. Although the hospital is quite small it provides a vital service to the Islanders. The Acute Hospital delivers a wide range of care and consequently the clinical departments contain a diverse range of  medical equipment. Due to the remote location it is crucial that the on site medical engineers have a wide ranging set of skills to keep the equipment running and operational.

 Clinical Departments at KEMH

  • Surgical/medical ward which also includes elderly care
  • 4 Bed Intensive Care Unit
  • 1 Operating Theatre
  • Minor Theatre for Endoscopy procedures
  • Outpatient Department with 12 clinical rooms
  • 3 Bed A&E Department
  • X-Ray Department
  • 3 Dental Rooms
  • Day Centre
  • Physiotherapy

EBME equipment located offsite

  • Carephone systems in sheltered housing
  • AEDs at various Government Buildings and throughout the islands

Mark arrived late Friday evening and so had the weekend to settle in before starting work at the hospital Monday morning. Over the weekend Simon Verrechia the onsite Senior Medical Engineer took Mark on a guided tour of Stanley showing him the local sites and recommending places to dine including the 5 pubs on the island!

The handover commenced on Monday when Mark received a very warm welcome whilst being introduced to all departments and members of staff. Over this period he completed PPM’s and various repairs / breakdowns within the hospital and the community which kept the departments and equipment up and running with no disruption.

Unfortunately Simon and Daniel were  unable to attend the training course planned in Paris as the only Flight from Mount Pleasant Airport (MPA) to Brize Norton was delayed several times due to either high winds from the north at MPA or tropical storms in Cape Verde were the aircraft makes a stopover for refuelling.

Although their trip back to the UK didn’t take place, Simon and his apprentice Daniel, were able to use the time extra time available to do an extensive “handover” with Mark going through all of what will be expected on future visits. Including the protocol to follow in case of an emergency Aeromed.

Aeromed involves the RAF transporting the patient, clinical team and the senior biomedical engineer from the Falklands to Montevideo in Uruguay. The engineer would provide technical support and assist clinical staff throughout the journey.

Knowing that the department and cover was in good hands Simon and Daniel took the opportunity to take some annual leave and enjoy the good weather that the island was experiencing. The visit, even though it didn’t go fully to plan has ensured that future trips to the South Atlantic can be carried out with a minimal handover.

Mark would like to thank the Engineering team / hospital staff for making him so welcome and ensuring that his time on the Falkland Islands was a memorable and pleasant experience. He is looking forward to returning in the future for whenever Locum Engineering cover is required.