Hospital under growing pressure with Covid outbreaks on two wards

Due to bed availability, patients are experiencing long waiting times and some surgeries, are being postponed

University Hospital Galway is under growing pressure this week due to rising Covid-19 patient numbers, hundreds of staff being unavailable for work due to the virus, and outbreaks of the illness in the facility.

A spokesperson for the Saolta University Health Care Group, which runs the public hospitals in the west and north-west, said due to bed availability issues patients are experiencing long waiting times at the emergency department of UHG and apologised for the delays. Some surgeries, both routine and scheduled, are also being postponed.

According to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation's daily trolley count figures, there were 44 patients waiting for beds at UHG on Monday, the second joint highest in the country (Letterkenny University Hospital, which is also part of the Saolta Group, had the same number of patients ). The highest number of patients (54 ) waiting in the ED department was recorded at Limerick University Hospital. On Tuesday, there were 33 patients waiting for beds at UHG, the fourth highest in Ireland after Limerick, Cork, and Sligo.

Pressure on bed capacity

In a statement issued earlier this week Saolta said UHG is dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks on two wards while four further wards are being used to care for patients with the virus. There were 71 patients with Covid-19 being treated in the hospital with three patients receiving attention in the hospital's intensive care department.

The spokesperson outlined that there is ongoing pressure on bed availability at the hospital due to the increase in the number of Covid-19 patients admitted during the past week. The number of staff off work due to the virus - more than 400 employees are unavailable due to Covid-related absences - has compounded the situation.

"The pressure on bed capacity means that patients are facing long waiting times to be admitted from the emergency department to a bed on a ward. The hospital acknowledges that these delays are very difficult for patients and their families and apologises for the inconvenience and distress these delays cause."

Priorities

The spokesperson stated that the hospital is committed to treating everyone who presents at the emergency department.

"People who are seriously injured or ill are assessed and treated as a priority, and those who do not require urgent care may be waiting longer. As part of the hospital's Covid-19 measures, we ask that patients wait in the ED alone to help maintain social distancing. A companion will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances. This is to minimise the risk of infection and to keep everyone safe. We remind patients to please wear a face mask when in the ED and to comply with any Covid-19 screening processes.

"For minor injuries, the injury unit in Roscommon University Hospital is open from 8am to 8pm every day to treat a range of injuries in both adults and children over five years of age."

Postponed procedures

As a result of the ongoing pressures, all routine and some scheduled surgeries are being postponed. "A number of outpatient appointments are also being postponed in order to redeploy staff to areas where there are staff shortages. Patients are being contacted directly if their procedure or appointment is postponed."

Meanwhile, services at Portiuncula University Hospital (PUH ) are being "significantly impacted" by the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the community together with a number of staff absences due to the virus.

Since Monday a number of scheduled procedures have been cancelled because of this at the Ballinasloe hospital, according to Saolta.

"In light of this, PUH is postponing a number of elective procedures for the coming week in order to redeploy staff to support essential emergency care. Patients are being contacted directly if their appointment is being postponed.

'Time sensitive'

"All day surgeries and endoscopy procedures have been postponed. Ambulatory gynaecology and other non-theatre day cases are proceeding but remain under review. Patients should confirm that their case is proceeding on the day before it is scheduled using the contact details provided on their appointment notification."

The spokesperson said "time sensitive and urgent cases" will take place when it is safe to do so and patients will be contacted regarding attendance. "Out-patient services are proceeding. The situation is being kept under constant review."

 

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