UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick has denied claims it ignored a request by its sister hospital St John’s, to transfer patients to it with only one strain of influenza, as part of measures aimed at reducing pressures on UHL, which is the country’s most overcrowded hospital.
A UHL spokesman, responding to the claim by a reliable Limerick hospital source, said: “No, only influenza A patients were transferred on Tuesday.”
The spokesman added: However, St John’s Hospital has agreed to accept patients with either type of influenza strain and is appropriately managing same.”
Last Monday a record high of 92 patients were recorded on trolleys at UHL.
Following this “it was agreed that St John’s would designate a temporary IP&C (Infection Prevention & Control) ward for flu patients,” the spokesman said.
“The intention at the time was to transfer patients with the influenza A strain that is currently dominant in the region. However, the acuity of illness among patients in UHL was such that insufficient numbers of influenza A patients were identified by their consultant as well enough to step down to a model 2 hospital.”
“However one influenza B patient was transferred to St John’s on Monday with the agreement of both hospitals,” the spokesman added.
Limerick Fine Gael Senator Kieran O’Donnell said he was made aware by reliable sources there were “twenty beds” blocked at St John’s this Wednesday morning.
“I understand that St John’s hospital informed UHL to transfer patients with similar flu strains so that all available beds could be used in St John’s. Can you advise me why this did not happen to ensure all available beds could be used,” Mr O’Donnell wrote in an email to HSE management this Wednesday.
UHL confirmed on Tuesday (7 Jan) that “17 beds” were blocked at St John’s.
On Wednesday, January 8, the hospital group’s spokesman said that “as of 2pm today (Wednesday)” this figure had been reduced to “two blocked beds at St John’s”.
“We have continued since Monday to identify suitable patients for transfer to St John’s and these have included a number of patients with influenza A as well as patients with no specific infection prevention and control (IP&C) status.”
“St John’s has capacity at present to safely isolate, cohort and manage patients with either of the above strains of flu, other IP&C needs and patients with no IP&C needs.”
“Nine patients were transferred from UHL to St John’s yesterday (Tuesday). A number had the influenza A strain while the remainder had no IP&C concerns. UHL and St John’s hospital are working together to manage flu patients and service demands in general”.
Mr O’Donnell said he welcomed the rescued figure of blocked beds at St Johns, but added he intended to seek “further clarity” about the updated figures released by UHL.