The Coelho Clinic for patients with HIV has opened at Broomfield Hospital.
Dr Dwight Coelho, who was a GUM and HIV consultant in Mid Essex for 27 years, cut the ribbon at the clinic named in his honour at a ceremony attended by MEHT staff and former colleagues.
The clinic has moved to Broomfield from the Crompton in Chelmsford and has been totally renovated for the team’s arrival. Consultant Huw Price, senior sister Sandra Hays, junior sister Susie Gyampo, secretary Suzanna Francis and administrator Harriet Green moved into the building last month and were delighted Dr Coelho could attend to complete the formalities.
Huw Price said: “It’s a very proud day for the team. We’re very glad to have our new premises, and we’re very proud to name it after my old colleague Dr Coelho.
“Dr Coelho was the lone consultant for almost all of his time running the sexual health and HIV service. He managed HIV right from the early days of HIV being unrecognised and almost untreatable, right through to today where HIV is now a managed condition and treatment is incredibly effective. He was such a great leader and advocate for the patients and staff.”
Confidentiality is a major issue for HIV patients, so there was some trepidation from the team as to how their patients would react, despite the improved facilities.
“Patients were anxious about coming to a location on site because unfortunately there remains a huge amount of ignorance and stigma, but we’ve a discreet location and all the patients I’ve spoken to have been very positive,” said Dr Price.
For Dr Coelho, who is now enjoying his retirement, it was a very proud day.
“I feel privileged. Some of the most contented years of my life were spent in mid Essex. It’s a great honour for my colleagues to consider me worthy of lending my name to the clinic.
“I consider it to be recognition of the efforts of not only myself but the whole team. It came as a surprise and I hope it reflects the respect and affection my staff and patients had for our services.”
Dr Coelho also reflected on how the prognosis for patients with HIV was so bleak in the early 1980s, a situation that has thankfully improved dramatically.
“In my early years - this was prior to treatment - we were treating patients that were late presenters. Typically they would present with AIDS, not just an HIV infection. There was always a sense of hopelessness about the way were trying to be positive and supportive of the patient when the outcome seemed quite inevitable. We concentrated quite often on the quality of life.”
Asked for his opinion of the new facilities, Dr Coelho added: “It is a significant improvement on what we had before. The advantage here is being on the hospital site, which was always a concern we had when managing HIV infections before because we were a bit remote for patients who’d been diagnosed late or were on wards. That is now going to be so much easier.”