170 souls from Limerick, Clare and Tipperary have been lost due to COVID-19

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AS it emerged that, 170 souls from Limerick, Clare and Tipperary, had been lost due to COVID-19, the Limerick Post further learned that 603 staff within the UL Hospitals Group were sidelined by the virus, the highest number since the pandemic began.

It also emerged that only 2 critical care beds were available in the region at University Hospital Limerick, according to latest HSE figures.

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Sixteen of the UHL’s 28-bed Critical Care Unit – comprising both Intensive Care and High Dependency patients – were filled by COVID patients.

A UL Hospitals spokesman told the Limerick Post, there were 205 COVID-positive inpatients across the Group, including 148 from University Hospital Limerick.

This Wednesday there are 30 patients on trolleys at UHL, the most of any hospital.

A total of 3,717 staff from within the UL Hospitals Group have so far received the first dose of the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine, however a spokesman confirmed that “more staff have volunteered to receive the vaccine than current supply can meet”.

“We continue to issue as much vaccine as possible, in line with national guidance and based on availability of vaccine and clinical prioritisation.”

While uptake for vaccinations across the group has been “excellent”, a “small number of staff in priority areas remain to receive their first dose,” they added.

“To date we have vaccinated staff predominantly from UHL, University Maternity Hospital Limerick and Ennis but also some staff from Nenagh (approx. 120), Croom Orthopaedic (approx. 20) and St John’s Hospitals (approx. 40), as well as staff prioritised by HSE MidWest Community Healthcare and the National Ambulance Service, who will all require a second dose within a period of three weeks,” said a UL Hospitals spokesman.

Those being prioritised for vaccination include staff working in “high risk areas” as well as “people aged 65 and older who are residents of long-term care facilities”.

Almost 2,500 residents and staff in nursing homes and other residential healthcare settings have been vaccinated by staff from across Mid West Community Healthcare and UL Hospitals Group.

Last Monday staff at Nenagh Hospital who are treating COVID patients complained they had not yet received the vaccine.

“We recognise the anxiety being experienced by unvaccinated staff across the Group as we experience a significant surge in COVID-19 activity, we will extend the vaccination programme to these sites as soon as the national delivery schedule allows.

“A number of staff from Nenagh, St John’s and Croom have received their first dose with the limited supply currently available to us,” the Group’s spokesman replied.

However, no date has been given for when the vaccine will be rolled out completely in Nenagh Hospital, St Johns Hospital and Croom Hospital.

The Department of Public Health Mid West urged people to “hold firm” in adhering to public health guidelines, as it announced there had been “1,600 COVID-19 cases reported in the past seven days” and “170 deaths associated with COVID-19 since March”.

Approximately 85 of these deaths were in long term care facilities and nursing homes.

“While we have seen few indications of slowdown in the transmission of the disease, the level of infection remains significantly high across the region, and the third wave continues to leave its devastating impact on our community as we are a still some time away from seeing signs of relief,” warned Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid-West.

“Right now, we are in no position to drop our guards or be complacent, which is why we need to hold firm, stay at home, and strictly follow public health guidelines.”