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Hospitals boss warns of huge surge in patient numbers over winter…

first_imgProfessor Colette Cowan, UL Hospitals Group CEOTHE chief executive of the University of Limerick Hospitals Group is concerned about a recent rise in numbers of people attending the emergency department at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) as the hospital continues to treat covid-19 patients.Professor Colette Cowan said she expects there will be a surge of Covid, flu and respiratory related illnesses at UHL over the winter and this will put increased pressures on the hospital.Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up She appealed to the public to stay away from the emergency department unless it was an absolute emergency.“I think there will be a surge but it will probably be a mixture of Covid and flu and it remains to be seen how the hospital will cope with it,” she said.Management at UHL has had to stream patients away from the emergency department which is now operating as a Covid-unit, as part of measures aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.People with symptoms are kept in the emergency department and those not showing symptoms and attending for other specific reasons, are being streamed out.Prof Cowan said the battle to contain the virus and prevent it spreading from trolley to trolley is a constant one.“It’s okay if the patients are in a room on their own but not if they’re on a corridor, so we are monitoring that very carefully”.A population catchment of approximately 400,000 across Limerick, Clare, Tipperary and North Cork attend at UHL as it has the only 24 hour emergency department in the region.On Monday there were 39 patients on trolleys, the highest in the country, according to figures published by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.Extra bed capacity is however, coming on stream, including a 14 single bed block,due in July; a 24 single bed block to follow in August; as well as a 60-single bed block expected to open in October.“The public have done what they were asked. You could see our trolley numbers dropped when Covid hit, and we are now appealing to the public to stay at home if they have symptoms, to isolate and ring their GP,” advised Prof Cowan advised.“The emergency department is not the place to come initially but if you’re very sick, of course you should come there.”The Group is still short of an additional 150 beds.A 96-bed block has been designed but is still awaiting funding before it can go to planning stage.“With the best will in the world the vaccine will come but that will take time. So we know that it will be a two year management of this virus, its not going away,” she said.Remaining positive despite what is shaping up as the hospital’s biggest battle to date over the coming winter, Prof Cowan maintained that “if a surge comes we will be ready for it”.Reiterating her earlier concerns, she said that despite the government loosening restrictions on people’s movements, Covid-19 remains “a dangerous virus affecting many people”.“You don’t have to have illnesses to get Covid, so people still need to be very very careful.”Meanwhile, a temporary mortuary that was erected on the grounds of Sarsfield Barracks, has not yet been utilised because the morgue at UHL has not been overrun with Covid-19 related deaths.Extra morgue resources were put in place at UHL, but these have not being used either, Prof Cowan said. Linkedin WhatsApp Advertisement Print Twittercenter_img Previous articleIrish AIDS DayNext articleLimerick Post Show | How to quit smoking David Raleigh Email NewsHealthHospitals boss warns of huge surge in patient numbers over winter monthsBy David Raleigh – June 11, 2020 492 Facebooklast_img read more