Visiting restrictions remain in place at Limerick hospitals despite easing of public health restrictions

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

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david.hurley@limerickleader.ie

Visiting restrictions remain in place at Limerick hospitals despite easing of public health restrictions

Visiting restrictions remain in place across the UL Hospitals Group

THE UL Hospitals Group is advising members of the public that the ban on visiting across its six hospitals remains in place.

The further easing of public health restrictions on Monday, will allow for the gradual increase in elective activity across the various sites.

However, the visiting ban remains in place to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19 and to help protect the safety of patients and staff during the ongoing public health emergency.

“The visiting ban was introduced in early March at University Hospital Limerick, University Maternity Hospital Limerick, St John’s Hospital, Nenagh Hospital, Ennis Hospital and Croom Orthopaedic Hospital. It also applies to the Intermediate Care Facility which opened at the UL Arena on June 8,” said a spokesperson.

Visiting is also not permitted at the Emergency Department at UHL or at the Injury Units in Ennis, Nenagh or St John’s.

“We regret the distress or inconvenience our visiting ban causes for patients and their loved ones, but it is necessary to keep it in place for now. This remains the case in the vast majority of acute hospitals around the country,” added the spokesperson.

The only exceptions to the ban are as follows:

• Parents visiting children in hospital

• Birthing partners of women in the delivery ward only at University Maternity Hospital Limerick

• People assisting confused patients (e.g. dementia)

• People visiting patients who are critically unwell or at end of life (on a case-by-case basis)

The UL Hospitals Group says it is being guided by the National Public Health Emergency Team and the HSE on its overall response to the pandemic including the volume and types of acute activity that can be safely undertaken in our hospitals.

While visiting restrictions have more recently been relaxed in residential care facilities, this is at the discretion of individual operators and strict guidance around PPE, social distancing, environmental and other factors have been issued by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre to help facilitate same.

“We will continue to be guided by the National Public Health Emergency Team, our HSE colleagues and the government on returning to normal operations. We have already commenced work at group level on how visiting can be safely recommenced in our hospitals pending a national decision,” said the spokperson.

Vvirtual visits will still be faciltated and a drop-off and collection service for patients’ belongings also remains in place.

“We know these restrictions are upsetting for many of our patients and their loved ones and this is why we have put in place additional supports in place for our patients until such time and the restrictions are relaxed,” said Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group.

“Throughout the pandemic, the people of the MidWest have made enormous sacrifices and shown tremendous support to healthcare workers. It is hugely encouraging for all of us to see families reuniting, businesses reopening, sports teams going back to training and a return to something like normality. However, we are not fully there yet and now is not the time to return to normal hospital visiting,” she added.

“In recent weeks, the number of emergency presentations at UHL has returned to pre-crisis levels, on some days exceeding them. Our hospitals are already busy as we plan to gradually increase elective activity. It is also clear from the statements of the NPHET and the WHO this week that the threat of Covid-19 is ever-present and we must all remain vigilant. The people of the MidWest have done a great job to date and we ask them, as society reopens, to continue to follow all the public health advice around hand hygiene, physical distancing, cough and sneeze etiquette and wearing a face covering where physical distancing cannot be maintained,” Ms Cowan stated.