THE country’s most overcrowded hospital University Hospital Limerick announced a deferral of almost all elective activity as it attempted to manage “a sustained surge in emergency presentations and a significant increase in Covid-19 activity”.
100 patients were on trolleys in corridors in the hospital’s Emergency Department and on general wards, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.
It is the second highest number of patients on trolleys at the hospital, after a record 111 patients on trolleys were recorded at UHL on January 26.
According to the HSE there were no general beds available at the Limerick hospital, a situation replicated in 14 other hospitals yesterday (Wednesday).
There were two beds available in UHL’s Intensive Care Unit, where six Covid-19 patients were being treated.
A spokesperson for UHL said the hospital had “moved to its highest level of escalation, meaning emergency and time-critical care for the sickest patients is being prioritised”.
Outpatient appointments, elective surgery and diagnostic investigations, have been “deferred until further notice”, and “affected patients will be contacted as soon as possible to reschedule their appointments and procedures,” he said.
A visiting ban remains in place at UHL, which was treating 89 Covid positive patients, however visits of one person per patient were being facilitated for parents visiting children; for people assisting confused patients; and for people visiting on compassionate grounds; for example, for patients who are critically unwell or at end of life.
Other hospital services in the region remained “largely unaffected” and scheduled care was operating as normal at Ennis Hospital, Nenagh Hospital, University Maternity Hospital Limerick, Croom Orthopaedic Hospital, and St John’s Hospital.
While the region’s only 24-hour Emergency Department, based out of UHL, remained open for emergency cases and emergency and trauma surgery, the Limerick hospital urged people “to first consider the care options that are available in their own communities, including family doctors, out-of-hours GP services, local pharmacies and local injury clinics”.
A limited number of scheduled care ppointments we’re still going ahead including: Cancer Services; Dialysis; Breast radiology; Cardiology; Clinical Age Assessment Unit; Rapid Access Medical Unit; Nurse-led outpatient clinic; Dermatology outpatients; Bronchoscopy outpatients; OPAT (outpatient therapy); Fracture Clinic; Paediatric outpatient clinics; Endoscopy.