THE Emergency Department at the University Hospital has seen an “unexpected increase” in patients presenting in recent days, which has resulted in high numbers of patients waiting on trolleys and long delays.
In a statement from the UL Hospital Group, following very high numbers on trolleys at the weekend, they said “the number of patients waiting has significantly reduced but is still above what we would like.”
This Monday there were 25 patients waiting on trolleys, the third highest in the country, after Beaumont hospital in Dublin and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, which had 50 and 33 patients waiting on trolleys respectively.
“UL Hospitals Group apologises that any patient has to wait to be admitted. Amongst the factors contributing to the increase in pressure within the ED is the older age profile of patients presenting along with the complexity of issues they have.
In addition, they said that refurbishment work is underway in one of the in-patient wards to bring the facilities up to HIQA standards, with work due to be completed in November.
“The temporary closure of this ward means that the number of beds available for in-patients in UHL has been reduced,” they said.
They have since enacted its escalation plan and some suitable patients have been transferred from UHL to Ennis Hospital, Nenagh Hospital and St John’s Hospital; additional ward rounds to identify patients ready for discharge, the transfer of appropriate patients to community care settings; and better communication with GPs to ensure patients are referred to the ED only where appropriate.
The UL Hospitals Group encourages visitors to adhere to visitor times; 2-4pm and 6:30-8:30pm with a maximum of two visitors per patient. Children under 14 years are advised not to visit. Patients are reminded to keep the ED for emergencies only and to contact their GP or GP out of hours services in the first instance. The department provides service to in excess of 60,000 patients a year.
UL Hospitals Group recently announced that contracts had been signed with John Sisk & Son Ltd for the fit-out and completion of the new emergency department and a state-of-the-art new dialysis unit. It is anticipated that the new emergency department, which will be treble the size of the existing facility, will open in the first quarter of 2017.
It is acknowledged that further interim measures will have to be taken to address capacity issues until the new ED opens. To this end, UL Hospitals has reached agreement for additional funding to open 25 extra beds in November to support activity levels in our emergency department at University Hospital Limerick.