BREAKING: Further cancellations at University Hospital Limerick as more staff are affected by Covid outbreak

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Email:

david.hurley@limerickleader.ie

BREAKING: Restrictions extended at University Hospital Limerick as more staff are affected by Covid outbreak

Restrictions have extended at UHL following a Covid-19 outbreak

A further 27 members of staff working across the UL Hospitals Group have been affected by outbreaks of Covid-19 at UHL and Ennis Hospital.

The outbreaks, which was were first reported early last week have resulted in 188 staff being unavailable to work.

While a number of staff have tested positive for Covid-19, the vast majority of those affected have been deemed to be close contacts and are self-isolating.

Significant reductions in scheduled care were introduced earlier this week and these measures have now been extended for a week.

All routine outpatient appointments and the majority of elective procedures have now been cancelled until Friday, November 20.

"Six wards in UHL are closed to admissions this Friday and a total of 188 staff are currently off work and self-isolating across UL Hospitals Group having either tested positive for Covid-19 or been designated as close contacts," a spokesperson said.

Outbreak control teams established in both locations continue to work closely with public health and occupational health colleagues and all the relevant HPSC guidance is being followed as efforts are  made to contain the virus and to protect patients and staff. 

Contact tracing and testing of staff and patients is continuing and the UL Hospitals Group says it is putting into effect all the appropriate infection control measures to mitigate the risk.

This Friday, the Group’s Hospital Crisis Management Team has extended the considerable curtailments on scheduled care in UHL and Ennis for a further week as staff prioritise emergency presentations and inpatients.

St John’s Hospital, Nenagh Hospital, University Maternity Hospital Limerick and Croom Orthopaedic Hospital continue to operate as normal.

Patients whose procedure or appointment is affected by the cancellations are being contacted directly by the hospital in advance. Affected patients will be rescheduled at the earliest opportunity.

The Emergency Department at UHL continues to operate 24-7 for emergency cases. At Ennis Hospital the Injury Unit and Medical Assessment Unit continue to operate. 

Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group, commented: "We regret the impact these service disruptions will have on our patients, many of whom have faced long waits for their appointments or their surgery and many of whom will have been following the guidelines and self-isolating in advance of same. These measures however, are now necessary in the interests of patient and staff safety as we manage a complex situation involving multiple outbreaks. The ED remains open at UHL for patients who need emergency care and is vital they continue to attend in such cases.”

Professor Brian Lenehan, Chief Clinical Director, UL Hospitals Group, added: “The volume of staff currently self-isolating having come into contact with Covid-19 is now such that we are curtailing scheduled care to concentrate resources on emergency presentations and on inpatients. This will also serve to reduce footfall in our hospitals in the coming days. Such cancellations are provided for in our escalation plan. We very much regret the impact this will have on hundreds of patients in the coming days and we will reschedule the affected patients as soon as possible. Our immediate focus is on providing a safe environment for all patients and also on supporting our staff, many of whom are now anxious for their own health and the health of their loved ones. The response of their colleagues in maintaining essential patient services continues to be exemplary."

The following services will continue to operate next week

-          Emergency/trauma theatre

-          Cancer and other time-critical surgery

-          Cancer Day Ward (chemotherapy and radiotherapy)

-          Cancer rapid access clinics (breast, lung, prostate)

-          Dermatology melanoma clinic

-          Urgent outpatient appointments

-          Dialysis

-          Palliative care

As has been the case since the start of the pandemic, patients with any symptoms of Covid-19 are asked not to attend the hospital or any healthcare facility but to phone their GP for advice. Further advice on the symptoms of Covid 19 is available at hse.ie