VISITING has been banned at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) until further notice as the hospital continues to manage high volumes of patients with influenza.
In a statement issued by UHL, a spokesperson said, “As flu can be carried into the hospital, it is necessary with immediate effect to impose these strict visitor restrictions.
“We apologise for any inconvenience or anxiety the restrictions may cause patients and their loved ones. However, these measures are being taken in the interests of patient safety and we appeal to the public for their co-operation at this time.”
The only exceptions to the visiting ban are people visiting patients who are at end-of-life, critically ill and confused patients (e.g. dementia). Parents visiting paediatric patients are also exempt.
The visiting ban includes the Emergency Department at UHL with the exception of patients in the above categories.
“Members of the public are reminded not to bring children on visits anywhere in the hospital,” The spokesperson said.
UHL has put prevention and control measures in place and “every effort is being made to manage and contain the spread of the flu”.
“However such is the volume of patients with flu and flu-like symptoms, we are cohorting these patients where no isolation facilities are available.
“The predominant strain is influenza A. A small number of patients have become seriously ill, including some who have required treatment in the intensive care unit. This demonstrates how serious flu can be and we are encouraging members of the public, especially those in at-risk groups, to get the flu vaccine if they have not already done so.”
People with flu-like symptoms are advised to contact their GP by phone in the first instance and are asked to avoid presenting at the Emergency Department at UHL.
“This peak in flu activity coincides with what is traditionally a busy New Year period in our hospitals,” The statement read, continuing, “UHL has been experiencing a high number of patients attending the ED in recent days. We have admitted a lot of seriously ill patients, many of who remain in the ED awaiting a bed.”
UHL is asking people to consider all care and treatment options available “and keep ED services for the patients who need them most”.
“For example, many patients with limb injuries can go to an Injury Unit in Ennis, Nenagh or St John’s Hospital. Injury Units are open in Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Sunday and 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday at St. John’s Hospital. Others with a less serious illness can be treated by their GP or out of hours GP service where their GP can refer them to an Assessment Unit the following day if required.
However, if you are seriously injured or ill or are worried your life is at risk the ED will assess and treat you as a priority.”
See http://undertheweather.ie/ for practical advice on how to mind yourself or your family when you’re sick.