Covid surge plan exists as ‘we are all at risk’ - UHL intensive care consultant

Covid surge plan exists as ‘we are all at risk’ - UHL intensive care consultant

University Hospital Limerick

ONE of Limerick and Ireland’s leading intensive care consultants has said “we are all at risk” while there is one person in the world who is infected with Covid-19. 

Dr Catherine Motherway, consultant in intensive care medicine at UHL, issued a blunt warning to the public, as the hospital had its first Covid ICU cases in over a month. 

She said that during the swine flu pandemic, the ICU ran at double capacity for nearly three weeks but it was “nothing quite like this”. 

She said the hospital does have a “surge plan”, which includes the redeployment of people to the ICU when there is a surge in capacity. However, she said they are “resource-constrained” and “a lot of those plans rely on us trying to not do the scheduled work”. 

This week, there have been two Covid-19 patients treated in ICU at UHL. This is the first time since August 10 when there was just one patient in the unit. 

According to the latest HSE figures, there have been 89 new cases in the past two weeks—an incidence rate of 45.7 per 100,000. 

Labour Party leader Alan Kelly asked Taoiseach Micheal Martin on Tuesday evening for the criteria to set up walk-in testing centres, after Limerick City North experienced a high incidence rate. He said that the area “desperately needs it”. 

There has been political concern in relation to how UHL will cope with a possible surge in Covid-19 cases this winter. “Hopefully by the time winter comes, we will have extra beds on stream,” Dr Motherway told the Leader, referring to the 60-bed block that is set to be completed by the end of the year. In addition, 24 new beds have been opened in recent weeks at the Dooradoyle hospital. 

She said that there is a “huge concern" about the incoming winter, however. She said that if people obey restrictions, there will be fewer flu and Covid-19 cases.

She said the deferral of scheduled care last week “was a source of great distress”. She said that patients with Covid-19 “take weeks” to recover in intensive care, and that “it takes a lot of effort, so we need fairly good intensive care resources”. 

She said that Covid-19 patients have to be nursed on their stomach a lot “which requires a lot of physical handling of the patient”. She added that they have a “very high incidence” of getting clots and kidney failure. 

“While there is one person in this world with that disease, we are all at risk. It is really, really infectious,” she said.

She has also urged people to attend scheduled Covid swab tests and to not go to work if you are feeling unwell this winter.

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