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UL Hospitals Group Reducing Elective Activity as Covid-19 Activity Surges

HSE Media Release: 05 January 2020

This includes University Hospital Limerick, Ennis Hospital, Nenagh Hospital, St John’s Hospital and Croom Orthopaedic Hospital. University Maternity Hospital Limerick is unaffected by the reductions. All affected patients are being contacted directly by the hospital.

As we experience a significant surge in Covid-19 activity, we are also reminding members of the public that the Emergency Department at University Hospital Limerick is extremely busy and patients should consider all other care options before presenting to ED. The ED remains open for emergency care and patients must continue to present for life-threatening emergencies such as heart attack, stroke etc.

We regret that the pandemic has now reached another point where we must significantly curtail scheduled care in the coming days and weeks. This is in order to prioritise high volumes of emergency Covid and non-Covid patients.

Emergency and trauma theatre continues to operate and time-critical outpatient appointments are also being accommodated both face-to-face and virtually. Patients whose appointment or procedure is being affected are being contacted by the hospital in advance. The reductions in service are being kept under continuous review by the UL Hospitals Group Crisis Management Team, which is currently meeting on a daily basis.

Visiting bans which were imposed across our hospital sites at the outset of the pandemic in March 2020 remain in force today.

We regret the distress and inconvenience these restrictions cause our patients and their loved ones but they are being implemented for the safety of patients and staff and to ensure essential services continue to operate for the sickest patients. Patients affected by the cancellations will be rescheduled at the earliest opportunity.

Services which continue include:

  •  Dialysis (UHL)
  •  Cancer services (oncology and haematology day ward; haematology and oncology OPD clinics; medical oncology clinics; rapid access clinics; Ward 4B appointments) (UHL)
  •  Fracture Clinic (UHL)
  •  Other outpatient clinics: Time-critical only following clinical decision, with patients being contacted in advance
  •  Paediatrics: oncology/radiology day case/diabetes education (UHL)
  •  Ante-natal clinic; colposcopy clinic; diabetes in pregnancy clinic; elective c-sections and induction of labour (UMHL).

As an alternative to attending ED, we urge everyone to first consider the care options that are available in their own communities, including family doctors, out-of-hours GP services, and local pharmacies.

 The Local Injury Units at Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals (8am to 8pm daily), and St John’s Hospital (8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday) are an excellent option for treatment of broken bones, dislocations, sprains, strains, wounds, scalds and minor burns, without a lengthy wait that can be expected in the ED at this time.

 If you do have symptoms of Covid-19, it is important that you do not go to the Emergency Department or your GP. Ring them in advance for advice. Avoid contact with other people by self-isolating. In a medical emergency if you have severe symptoms, call 112 or 999.

UL Hospitals Group CEO, Colette Cowan, said:

“We are now at a critical juncture as we expect the volume of Covid-19 patients admitted to hospital will soon exceed the numbers we treated during the first wave. This will present tremendous challenges for our hospitals and for our communities across the MidWest. Since the start of the pandemic, we have significantly increased staffing levels and bed capacity. Staff have upskilled and gained valuable experience on how to treat patients ill with this terrible disease.

“We are currently under considerable pressure but managing. However, no healthcare system could continue to cope with the current rate of increase in community transmission; hospital admissions and ICU admissions. The current rate of growth is unsustainable and we are depending on the public to again follow the public health advice as they have done in the past. It is imperative that people stay at home, that they keep their distance, wash their hands and take all the simple precautions to help us through this most challenging phase yet.”

Prof Brian Lenehan, Chief Clinical Director, UL Hospitals Group said:

“This Monday we commenced vaccinating hospital staff against Covid-19 as part of the biggest such mass vaccination campaign ever seen in Ireland. It gives our staff such a sense of optimism that we are at the beginning of the end of this pandemic. They know what they are potentially facing over the next number of weeks and it is imperative that we all do the right thing for our loved ones, for the vulnerable members of our community and for our healthcare workers by following the public health advice.

“We regret that we are again curtailing scheduled care in our hospitals. We will prioritise our most urgent patients for planned procedures and appointments and we look forward to increasing this activity as soon as possible.”

Ends.

Last updated on: 06 / 01 / 2021