Published on 5 March 2021
It was a case of puppy love when ITU staff at East Kent Hospitals organised a visit for a patient’s beloved pet.
Jim Beverton has been in intensive care at the William Harvey Hospital for seven weeks, and was missing his family – including his cherished working cocker spaniel Caramel.
While his wife Linda did her best to involve Caramel in their regular video calls, it wasn’t the same as a canine cuddle, so physiotherapists Bryoni Hartridge and Pippa Barnes pulled out all the stops to allow her to visit.
After all the required risk assessments and paperwork were completed, the teams wheeled Jim’s bed to a quiet area outside the hospital where Linda and Caramel were waiting.
Linda said: “It was just wonderful to see his face when he saw Caramel, and to see her suddenly realise who he was.
“It must have taken the team half an hour to get him ready to bring him outside for three or four minutes, but it was the best three or four minutes he could have had.
“His dog is his life and he was desperate to see her and to know she was okay.”
Jim, from River, near Dover, fell ill just after Christmas, when the whole family tested positive for Covid-19. Sadly his mum died from the virus.
Linda said: “The staff have really gone the extra mile for Jim – not just in organising the visit for Caramel, but in allowing us to go to ITU to tell him about his mum so I didn’t have to do it via video call.
“I needed to be able to hold his hand and to tell him it was going to be okay and he was going to recover.”
The couple have two daughters and two grandchildren, and have been married for 43 years. Jim, who works at Dungeness A power station, turns 62 on Monday.
Linda said: “This will be the first birthday in 46 years we have not been able to celebrate together.
“Until you have personal experience of this virus you don’t realise how awful it is, but there is a lot of support out there and people really going over and above for us.
“His work have been so supportive and the hospital staff have been wonderful. I can’t thank everyone enough for everything they have done.”
Weeks in hospital have left Jim very weak and physiotherapists are working with him to build up his strength.
Physiotherapist Bryoni Hartridge said the visit from Linda and Caramel gave him a much-needed boost.
She said: “It can really help people to have a reminder of the life that is waiting for them outside of hospital and that’s exactly what Caramel gave Jim.
“Seeing her gave him a real lift and we have noticed that he has been more motivated since her visit.
“He still has a long road ahead but we will continue to support him and help him get back to his family – and of course to Caramel.”