06 Dec 2021

All non-urgent procedures at Limerick hospital under threat as fourth Covid wave worsens

All non-urgent procedures at Limerick hospital under threat as fourth Covid wave worsens

There are currently 49 patients with Covid-19 at UHL

THE Chief Executive of the UL Hospitals Group says all non-urgent surgeries and elective procedures at UHL are likely to be deferred by the end of next week.

Colette Cowan was speaking this lunchtime after she confirmed the hospital has activated its intensive care surge plan in response to the increasing number of Covid-19 patients at the hospital.

There are currently 13 patients being treated in ICU - nine of which are Covid-positive.

Ordinarily, there are 12 intensive care beds at UHL with the capability to 'flex' beds in the High Dependency Unit when needed.

"Already, we have had to look at our critical care surge plan and flex our beds. We have a very nice facility within the group however we are already using High Dependency Unit beds now for that surge in critical care," Ms Cowan told the News at One on RTÉ Radio 1.

"As of now, we have 13 patients that require intensive care from both the medical and nursing teams and we can flex that to another bed, if required, over the weekend and two more if we have to - we have a very specific critical care surge plan to do that," she added.

As the fourth wave of Covid-19 continues, Ms Cowan said she and her management team are looking at the next seven to fourteen days to see how critical care access can be maximised.

"The staff requirement (in ICU) is very skilled. What we have to do next is look at what other services do we need to stop to redeploy skilled nursing professionals back to the intensive care setting to provide care," explained Ms Cowan.

"The knock on of that will be that we have to slow down other work such as elective procedures that we have in the hospitals and take break in the system to allow emergency care to function," she added.

The situation is being reviewed on a daily basis and Ms Cowan says it's likely all non-urgent procedures will be deferred or moved to the private hospital sector towards the end of next week.

"At the moment surgery is going ahead. On a day-to-day basis, we are reviewing it and by Wednesday of next week we expect that we will be standing down all of that work to prepare for a Covid surge and unscheduled work. That is what we are predicting - elective work will have to stall."

Those due to undergo procedures at UHL or other hospitals in UL Hospitals Group are being advised to attend as scheduled unless they are contacted directly.

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