Local Independent Deputy, Denis Naughten, has questioned the Minister for Health on the capacity of Portiuncula Hospital to deal with the surge in patients as a result of Covid-19.
“During the first week in January, Portiuncula Hospital had an average 13 patients on trolleys overnight and as a direct result of the reduction in the number of beds in the hospital due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“Last June I wrote to the Minister's predecessor pointing out that Portiuncula Hospital was in a desperate situation because it has lost 10 percent of its acute hospital capacity due to Covid-19 configuration.
“The hospital was very proactive and put forward two very specific proposals. The first was to develop two separate modular buildings, one for an accident and emergency department that could segregate Covid and non-Covid patients and the second modular building was to take the outpatient department out of the acute hospital and convert the old outpatient department into 13 single rooms. At present Portiuncula hospital, which is one of the biggest acute hospitals servicing the Midlands while trying to manage an infectious disease, has only 13 single rooms.
“While funding has been forthcoming for the modular building for the outpatient department, no refurbishment work has yet taken place of the old outpatient department and no funding has been provided for the second modular building for the accident and emergency department.
“It is totally unacceptable that the hospital is operating at 10 percent less capacity today, with just 13 single rooms which leaves it in an impossible position to manage the pandemic and the challenges that currently exist.
"The notes we now need from the Minister are those sanctioning the funding to provide actual beds in our hospital to deal with the current situation. To the best of my knowledge, Portiuncula is the only acute model 3 or model 4 hospital in the country that did not secure additional beds to cope with the surge in Covid-19 infections," Deputy Naughten commented.
Essential frontline staff left out of vaccination roll out
Meanwhile, Deputy Naughten has sought clarity from the Minister for Health on claims that up to one fifth of staff in long stay homes for older people will not be vaccinated with their colleagues and nursing home residents due to a failure by the HSE to deliver adequate supplies of vaccine.
“Staff are now being informed that they will have to await for a further delivery of vaccine because not enough was delivered to long stay hospitals to cover all members of staff.
“While the number of vaccines delivered will cover all residents, I’ve been informed by staff that there has been a 20 percent shortfall in the number of vaccines delivered for the those caring for vulnerable older people.
“I am seeking urgent clarification from the Minister for Health as to how this happened and what measures are being taken to address the situation,” Deputy Naughten asserted.