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Hospitals brace for Covid surge

Thursday, 8th October, 2020 9:18am

Cork University Hospital (CUH) has strictly prohibited all visitations due to issues with infection control at the hospital as concerns grow over a potential surge in Covid-19 cases.

In response to these concerns, the HSE has purchased additional equipment and implemented a number of infrastructural adaptions, as well as providing special training for 1,600 staff. The most recent figures released by the HSE show that Cork’s two main hospitals, CUH and the Mercy, have zero critical care units available.

As of 6 October, CUH and the Mercy have zero confirmed Covid-19 cases in critical care units.

A HSE spokesperson told the Cork Independent that a planned phased development to increase the country’s critical care capacity from 281 to 436 has been submitted to the Department of Health for Government review.

Currently, if patient numbers were to rise above 281, the excess patients would be treated outside of critical care units where staffing would be supplemented by non-critical care staff who have received in-hospital training.

Latest HSE figures indicate that Ireland currently has 24 confirmed Covid-19 patients in critical care units around the country, with highest numbers in Tallaght Hospital (4) Beaumont Hospital (3) and St James' (3).

Meanwhile, the spokesperson emphasised that surge management is an “emergency provision” and does not provide the same standards of care of planned facilities.

“For this reason, the critical care community, supported by the HSE, is very clear that the requirement for surge usage should be minimised and that its use should not be normalised,” said the spokesperson.

In preparation for the coming winter months, the HSE is engaging with private hospitals to put in place a “safety net agreement” which will come into play in the event of an extreme Covid-19 surge in the near future.

This would see private hospitals absorbing a certain amount of the strain placed on the public health system.

Examples of these services include provision of inpatient treatment, time dependent and urgent care, inpatient scheduled care such as orthopaedics, outpatient services and access to diagnostic services.

According to figures released yesterday by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), CUH had the second highest number of patients waiting for a bed in the country with 41. University Hospital Limerick recorded the highest number at 46.

In county Cork, Bantry General Hospital has also announced that it will not be allowing any visitation until further notice in line with the county’s move to level three restrictions.

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