Evelina London appoints first dedicated nurse for rare COVID condition

Posted on Monday 4th April 2022

Michael Bell, PIMS-TS clinical nurse specialist

Our children’s hospital has become one of the first in the UK to appoint a dedicated clinical nurse specialist for a rare inflammatory condition linked to COVID-19.

Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PIMS-TS) is a delayed reaction to the body trying to overcome COVID-19, and causes swelling throughout the body. The small number of children who get PIMS-TS require hospital treatment, and although it’s a serious condition, it is mostly successfully treated when caught early.

Michael Bell was appointed as a dedicated PIMS-TS clinical nurse specialist towards the end of 2021. He works with a team of doctors and nurses to provide care and support to children and young people with the condition.

He said: “As PIMS-TS is a new condition, I help families understand it and the symptoms their child has during and after their hospital stay. Often this can be the first time their child has needed hospital treatment, so it can be a worrying time for them. I provide care and reassurance to families during their hospital stay, as well as when they return home.”

Michael runs a dedicated helpline which gives medical support and advice to families after they’ve been discharged home from hospital to answer any questions or concerns. He also runs clinics where children see a range of experts in one setting for check-ups after their time in hospital.

Eleven-year-old Rahul Chakravarty, from Croydon in South London, became unwell with PIMS-TS in December 2021. He was transferred to Evelina London by the South Thames Retrieval Service for specialist care after being diagnosed with the condition at his local hospital.

Rahul’s mother Sumita Chakravarty said: “By the time Rahul was diagnosed with PIMS-TS he was very ill. The doctors at our local hospital were concerned that he might have long-term damage to his heart. They contacted Evelina London for advice and he was taken to the hospital’s paediatric intensive care unit. It was very traumatic seeing him there with so many IV lines connected to his body. He was otherwise a very healthy boy so the experience was very upsetting for us.”

Rahul spent nine days in hospital before being discharged back home to finish recovering.

Sumita said: “Once Rahul was back home it was very reassuring knowing that there was a dedicated helpline we could call to get medical advice. Rahul developed knee pain after being in hospital and we called the helpline and Michael arranged an appointment with a physiotherapist which did wonders.

“The staff at Evelina London were absolutely wonderful and it’s fantastic that they have a recognised pathway and a dedicated nurse to treat patients with this condition. I felt comfortable that the team knew what they were doing and Rahul was in very safe hands. Rahul thankfully has no long-term complications. He gets tired very easily but he gets better every week and he has been able to return to school part-time. His doctors have told us that most children are fully recovered by six months after their hospital treatment.”

As part of his role, Michael also developed leaflets for schools on how to support children returning to education after being hospitalised, and for parents to help them understand the condition.

Michael said: “At Evelina London we have been at the forefront of treating children and young people with PIMS-TS and establishing a service during and after their time in hospital. We’ve worked collaboratively with other hospitals in London to better understand the condition and improve treatments.

“PIMS-TS is a serious condition which requires urgent medical attention. The children and young people we’ve seen with PIMS-TS, like Rahul, have responded really well to hospital treatment and we continue to monitor them through regular check-ups afterwards. It’s great seeing my patients at their follow up appointments when they’ve made a really good recovery.”

Our clinicians were among the first in the world to report PIMS-TS as a new condition in April 2020, helping other countries to also successfully treat it.

Since the condition was discovered, Evelina London has treated almost 400 patients from across London and south east England.

 Symptoms of PIMS-TS can include:

  • A prolonged fever (higher than 38C)
  • Tummy ache
  • Diarrhoea and / or vomiting
  • Widespread red rash
  • red bloodshot eyes, strawberry red tongue, or red cracked lips
  • Swelling of fingers and toes
  • Not feeling or acting like themselves.

 If your child has any of the following symptoms, call your GP or NHS 111 for advice. If your child develops chest pain, please call 999 immediately.