Visitors have been banned at University Hospital Limerick, as the hospital deals with its busiest ever day of overcrowding.
92 patients were left waiting for beds at the Dooradoyle facility this morning according to INMO figures, 52 of those in the Emergency Department alone.
The total number is, again, the highest ever recorded at any Irish hospital.
UHL last broke the national record in November, on a day in which 85 patients were left waiting on trolleys.
Since then steps have been taken to open beds at St John’s in Limerick, while a second MRI scanner has also come on stream.
The INMO’s Midwest Representative, Mary Fogarty has been speaking with Fiona Cahill on Clare FM’s Main Lunchtime News about the high levels of overcrowding.
The UL Hospitals Group is now appealing to people to consider their care options, including their GP and the Local Injuries Unit at Ennis General, and to leave the ED for emergencies only.
The hospital has also announced a ban on visitors, a move officials say has been taken in the interests of patient safety because of the high levels of flu.
The only exceptions are those visiting patients who are at end-of-life, critically ill and confused patients, as well as parents visiting children.
The ban includes the Emergency Department and people are reminded not to bring children on visits anywhere in the hospital.
Statement from the UL Hospitals Group
VISITING has been banned at University Hospital Limerick until further notice as the hospital continues to manage high volumes of patients with influenza.
As flu can be carried in to the hospital, it is necessary with immediate effect to impose these strict visitor restrictions. We apologise for any inconvenience or anxiety the restrictions may cause patients and their loved ones. However, these measures are being taken in the interests of patient safety and we appeal to the public for their co-operation at this time.
The only exceptions to the visiting ban are people visiting patients who are at end-of-life, critically ill and confused patients (e.g. dementia). Parents visiting paediatric patients are also exempt.
The visiting ban includes the Emergency Department at UHL and with the exception of patients in the above categories.
Members of the public are reminded not to bring children on visits anywhere in the hospital.
Infection prevention and control measures are in place and every effort is being made to manage and contain the spread of the flu. However such is the volume of patients with flu and flu-like symptoms, we are cohorting these patients where no isolation facilities are available.
The predominant strain is influenza A. A small number of patients have become seriously ill, including some who have required treatment in the intensive care unit. This demonstrates how serious flu can be and we are encouraging members of the public, especially those in at-risk groups, to get the flu vaccine if they have not already done so.
People with flu like symptoms are advised to contact their GP by phone in the first instance and avoid presenting at the Emergency Department at UHL.
This peak in flu activity coincides with what is traditionally a busy New Year period in our hospitals. UHL has been experiencing a high number of patients attending the ED in recent days. We have admitted a lot of seriously ill patients , many of who remain in the ED awaiting a bed.
We are asking people to think about all their care and treatment options and keep ED services for the patients who need them most. For example, many patients with limb injuries can go to an Injury Unit in Ennis, Nenagh or St John’s Hospital.
Injury Units are open in Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Sunday and 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday at St. John’s Hospital. Others with a less serious illness can be treated by their GP or out of hours GP service where their GP can refer them to an Assessment Unit the following day if required.
However, if you are seriously injured or ill or are worried your life is at risk the ED will assess and treat you as a priority.
See http://undertheweather.ie/ for practical advice on how to mind yourself or your family when you’re sick.