UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick is to ring-fence its emergency department for Covid-19 cases and other seriously-ill patients, with all minor injuries being redirected to the Mid-West's three injury units.
As part of the new measures, St John's Hospital will see its opening hours extend from 8am to 7pm seven days a week. For the first time in many years, the injury unit in the city centre will be open on weekends, in order to prevent congestion at UHL.
Minor injuries include broken bones, cuts, bruises, sprains and strains. The measures come into effect this Wednesday.
However, if you have a minor injury and you are presenting with Covid-19 symptoms, then you should present to UHL.
If you suffer a minor injury outside the working hours, patients may defer to the next day or attend UHL where they will be treated in a separate part of the hospital outside the emergency department.
UHL and St John's emergency medicine consultant, Dr Gareth Quin said that they expect the emergency department to become "extremely busy" with Covid-19 patients.
"And to reduce demand on the ED, we will redirect patients with minor injuries to St John’s, Ennis and Nenagh, where our well established Injury Units provide an excellent service to patients with minor injuries.
“Our teams of highly experienced doctors, Advanced Nurse Practitioners and nurses, radiographers and physiotherapists, can deliver expert care and treatment for a wide range of injuries including broken bones, dislocations, sprains, strains, wounds, scalds and minor burns.”
A spokesperson said that all query Covid-19 patients will be managed in the ED at UHL. However, the ED will not be providing a swabbing service. The only patients being swabbed in the Emergency Department will be those sick enough to require hospital admission.
Dr Quin reassured the public that patients with heart attacks, strokes and other serious illnesses and injuries will continue to be treated in the ED at UHL.
"We know that the focus of the entire health system in the coming days, weeks and months will be on dealing with coronavirus. However, we want to reassure the people of the Mid-West that patients requiring emergency treatment for heart attacks, strokes and other serious illnesses will continue to be treated to the best of our ability in the Emergency Department at UHL,” he
"The last few weeks have seen enormous levels of planning and preparation for the anticipated surge in Covid-19 related illnesses, and we all stand ready to provide every patient who needs our service with the best care possible.”
The Injury Units at St John’s Ennis and Nenagh have played a strong role in alleviating pressure on the Emergency Department at UHL. Approximately one in three of all emergency presentations across UL Hospitals Group take place within the Injury Units. All three enjoy consistently positive feedback from the patients they treat. There is no charge for patients with full medical cards or patients with a valid medical/GP referral letter.
The Injury Unit at St. John’s Hospital can be contacted on 061-462303.
The Injury Unit at Nenagh Hospital is open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, and can be contacted on 067-42311.
The Injury Unit at Ennis Hospital is open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, and can be contacted on 065-6863121.
For further information, visit www.hse.ie/injuryunits for further information.