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Leeds Disabled Doctor Delivers Vital Care To Elderly During Pandemic

April 16, 2020

A press release:

 

Dr Hannah Barham-Brown, a Leeds GP trainee with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, is helping elderly and vulnerable people recover during the COVID-19 crisis with support from her WHILL powerchair from TGA.

Hannah Barham-Brown is a British Medical Association Council member, speaker, and gender and disability equity campaigner. She is a practicing GP however is currently working for Leeds Community Healthcare which supports an increasing number of senior patients who have been rapidly discharged from hospital. As she has reduced mobility due to Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, she uses a technologically advanced powered wheelchair known as a WHILL Model C.

Hannah is the UK Ambassador for TGA who supplies this multi-award winning product in the UK. In addition to her career, charity work and media commentary, she gives motivational talks and for the second year running, was included in the Shaw Trust’s Power 100 list – making her one of the most influential disabled people in the UK. Hannah is currently caring for elderly people who require support during rehabilitation from hospital before returning to their homes.

Hannah says: “When I went to medical school, I trained for many unexpected things however nothing could have prepared me for everything I would face working during Coronavirus. In many ways, I am very lucky. I’m currently based in the Leeds NHS ‘Recovery Hub’ for older patients who have been discharged from hospital, but need some rehabilitation or a care package starting before they are able to go home. However COVID 19 is now everywhere, with many of those who have it appearing to have no symptoms at all. I am spending much of my day in my WHILL wearing a facemask, visor over my glasses, apron and gloves.  My patients aren’t able to have visitors so sometimes I have to make difficult phone calls to loved ones to explain the situation and the options we may or may not have.”

Hannah is able to complete her rounds and consultations with her TGA WHILL which she calls ‘Merida’. As walking is very challenging, she moves around using ‘omni-wheel’ technology which allows pioneering manoeuvrability – with the ability to position herself in tight spaces and closer to patients. This contemporary product can be dismantled and stored in a car boot and ‘parked’ using a remote-control smartphone app.

Hannah continues: “I’m also lucky that my condition doesn’t leave me especially ‘vulnerable’ to Coronavirus – whilst as a healthcare professional I know I am at higher risk of catching it than the average member of the population. I know there is a lot of very justified fear in the disabled community at the moment; as ever, it feels like the challenges faced by wider society are magnified for those who rely on care, and have additional health needs. Please, if you are struggling, reach out. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have an amazing community of disabled people sharing their experiences and supporting each other. TGA Mobility are also helping their customers through social media and to try and support people with mobility and independence. In medical school, the most important thing I learnt was the importance of working as part of a team – my WHILL helps me do this, especially during this incredibly demanding clinical situation.”

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