High numbers still attending Limerick Emergency Department as hospital notes spread of Delta variant could lead to “fourth wave of hospitalisations”

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University Hospital Limerick

MANAGEMENT of University Hospital Limerick (UHL) have urged people to seek alternative care options to the hospital’s emergency department due to “record numbers” of attendances in recent days, and also acknowledged the potential for the Delta variant of Covid-19 to lead to “a fourth wave of hospitalisations from the illness”.

In a 24-hour period up to 8am this Wednesday 232 people had presented at the Limerick emergency department, an average of 9.6 patients every hour.

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Four patients at UHL were being treated for Covid-19 of which one was in the Intensive Care Unit and one in the High Dependency Unit.

“We note the concern nationally and internationally about the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 and its potential to lead to a fourth wave of hospitalisations from the illness. In view of these concerns about the Delta variant, we ask the public to continue helping to suppress circulation of the Delta virus by strictly adhering to the public health measures that have proven so effective in controlling the impact of other variants of COVID-19,” said a UHL spokesman.

Last Wednesday the hospital asked people to avoid the ED unless it was an emergency situation and to access local injury clinics around the region.

In an updated response to questions from the Limerick Post, a UHL spokesman reiterated that “University Hospital Limerick remains busy, with high numbers of presentations at the Emergency Department”.

“Patients with less urgent needs are going to experience long delays if they attend the ED. We continue to ask people with less urgent illness or injuries to first consider the most appropriate care options available to them (including GPs, out-of-hours GP services, pharmacies and the Injury Units in Nenagh Hospital, Ennis Hospital or St John’s Hospital, Limerick) as an alternative to attending ED.”

Dr Joe Kelly, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, UL Hospitals Group, revealed last Monday that there were 280 presentations to the Limerick ED “that’s 85 more than the average attendance in the last full year before the pandemic”.

“In short, we’re at capacity, and all staff are working to ensure our patients are provided with safe care, and that emergency healthcare is prioritised for the significant numbers of people who need these services most urgently right now,” Dr Kelly added.

In 2019, the last full year pre-pandemic, average daily ED presentations stood at 195.

“The hospital continues to work to its escalation plan for managing high levels of attendances. Our staff continue undertaking additional ward rounds, in addition to accelerating discharges and identifying patients for transfer to the Model 2 hospitals in our Group,” the spokesman added.