The HSE’s Director of Public Health in the Midwest is warning the hospital system is stressed to it’s absolute limit, as overall case number of Covid-19 in the community in Clare, Limerick and Tipperary are extremely high.
Almost 600 members of staff are on Covid leave from the UL Hospitals Group today, with further staff off duty across residential and other healthcare facilities.
579 staff members across the UL Hospitals Group are unavailable for work today, due to Covid-19.
The majority of those are based at University Hospital Limerick, where there were 193 nurses and healthcare attendants out of work.
The figures include staff who have tested positive for Covid-19 either through the workplace or community transmission, close contacts of positive cases and staff who are showing symptoms and are staying off work in line with the public health guidance.
It’s understood that around 50 medical staff were among those affected.
The HSE’s Director of Public Health in the Midwest is warning that the hospital system is stressed to it’s absolute limit on account of the staff shortages, as well as an extremely high number of cases in the community across Clare, Limerick and Tipperary.
There have been more than seven thousand cases in the region since December 18th.
Dr Mai Mannix says the hospital system is currently coping and a surge plan is in place, but she warns it simply cannot sustain the high level of daily cases for much longer.
The HSE Chief Operations Officer has confirmed that healthcare workers across the country, who are deemed close contacts of someone with Covid-19, are now being asked to return to work if they have no symptoms.
The decision was made due to staff shortages, with 7,000 healthcare workers off because they either have Covid or are close contacts.
Nationally there are 1,750 patients in hospital with the virus, with 130 of those at University Hospital Limerick.
158 are in intensive care, 10 of those in Dooradoyle.
But Trinity College Professor Tomás Ryan says the R number does seem to be decreasing.
Meanwhile, 700,000 people are to receive the Covid-19 vaccine here by the end of March.
The Health Minister says 1.4 million doses will be available over the next 11 weeks, meaning all frontline healthcare workers, over 70s and people in long-term residential settings will be vaccinated.
Everyone in the nursing home sector is expected to have been given their first dose by Sunday week.
Minister Stephen Donnelly says the most at-risk groups will be covered over the next three months.
UL Hospitals Group statement:
The Hospital Crisis Management Team convened in March 2020 in response to the national public health emergency and has been stood up and stood down according to the trajectory of the pandemic ever since. It is currently meeting on a daily basis reflecting the seriousness of the phase we are in and the pressure hospital services are under.
UHL is currently at the second highest of five levels of escalation. This has involved various measures, including the postponement of most scheduled surgeries and outpatient appointments to concentrate on essential services, emergency presentations and time-critical surgeries, appointments and investigations. We continue to see a considerable surge in Covid-19 activity.
Managing trauma patients is such an essential service and a trauma service has been maintained for patients at UHL throughout the pandemic. The Trauma Ward at UHL was temporarily closed for cleaning in recent days but reopened over the weekend. There was no interruption in the trauma service for our patients.
This Wednesday morning, January 13th there were a total of 579 staff across UL Hospitals Group unavailable for work due to Covid-19. The majority of staff are based at University Hospital Limerick where this morning there were 193 nurses and healthcare attendants unavailable for work. There were approximately 50 medical staff (consultants and NCHDs) absent at UHL for the same reasons from a total of over 500 staff. The majority of these staff are close contacts rather than positive cases.
These figures include staff who have tested positive for Covid-19 either through the workplace or community transmission; those who are close contacts of positive cases and staff who are showing symptoms and who are staying off work in line with the public health guidance in respect of Covid-19.
We are currently undertaking a mass screening of clinical staff in UHL with approximately 1,000 staff consenting to swab tests in the past two days. Similar mass testing of staff was conducted in UHL in November. We are grateful to all the staff who have volunteering to participate in this mass screening of colleagues.
We are proud of the staff who are currently making extraordinary efforts to maintain essential services and care for our patients. Their professionalism has again been exemplary. Occupational health and other supports, including counselling, are in place to support them through this difficult time.