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UHL surge plan to be activated in "matter of days" as Covid cases rise further

UL Hospitals Group announces appointment of a new chief clinical director

Brian Lenehan, chief clinical director UL Hospitals

The chief clinical director of the UL Hospitals Group says he expects the surge plan will be activated later this week as the number of Covid-19 patients continues to grow.

As of 8pm last night there were 124 Covid-19 patients admitted to University Hospital Limerick with 11 of them in intensive care. There were a further five patients who are suspected to have Covid-19.

According to the HSE data, eight general beds and three ICU beds were still available at UHL last night.

While services are under strain, Professor Brian Lenehan says the UL Hospitals group is managing.

"We are - both nationally and locally here in Limerick -  in the middle of a significant crisis, hospital services across the country are severely challenged at present and currently in Limerick we are managing but we have a significant number of staff across many grades who are out due to Covid illness or being Covid contacts," he said.

Prof Lenehan says given the current trajectory of cases in Limerick and across the Mid West, the surge capacity is likely to be needed in a "matter of days."

"We are utilising the full capacity at present and our surge capacity would be additional beds which we don't normally use outside of 9-to-5 Monday-to-Friday such as day ward beds at St John's, Nenagh, Ennis and UHL and indeed Croom Orthopaedic Hospital which during the first phase of the pandemic transformed from an orthopaedic hospital into a medical hospital for sub-acute patients and patients who didn't require acute care in the model 4 hospital (UHL) so we have a plan to stand up all of those beds as they are required over the coming weeks," he told RTÉ Radio One.

Under the surge plan, beds will be used across the entirety of the UL Hospitals Group.

"We are lucky in that we have UHL which is a large model 4 hospital which has very good critical care infrastructure and opened 98 new beds, which are single room facilities since March but we also have three model 2 hospitals all of which help us provide care for the patients and for Covid patients," explained Prof Lenehan who added that there is ICU capacity at UHL at present.

"We are fortunate to have a very modern ICU at UHL that has single room facilities - we have 12 intensive care beds and up to 16 high dependency beds. if that number is exceeded, we have a surge plan in place to extend our ICU into our HDU and then to stand up our HDU elsewhere within the hospital," he said.

Last night, a further 320 confirmed cases of Covid-19 were reported in Limerick. 

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