The past 2-3 weeks have been very difficult for the health service and there is no doubt that we are facing into unprecedented challenges for some time to come. However, I am so proud of the work that you have done so far and it is clear that the public is truly grateful for your efforts.
I would like to reassure you that the IEHG management team will continue to work hard on behalf of all hospitals in our Group to ensure that the required resources are provided to assist you all in your day-to-day work as you care for those who are most in need during this extraordinary time.
● Our HR teams are working to staff and resource our hospitals, utilising whatever resources we have to either redeploy, upskill or train personnel.
● Our Group HR Director has reassigned her staff to work with the HR Managers in our HSE hospitals in a HR Business Partner approach.
● We are working to find solutions for those members of staff with childcare needs.
● Isolation Wards, ICU beds, testing and recovery or step-down beds in hospitals have been identified and we are working with our community partners to provide care for our patients within the community or at home, rather than in our hospitals. For example, National Orthopaedic Hospital, Cappagh is admitting urgent fractures from IEHG and other hospitals across the northeast.
● We are working on maintaining essential stocks of PPE. Ventilators and other necessary equipment are being resourced and we are working with procurement to get the equipment into hospitals as soon as possible. We have reassigned members of staff to work with our Procurement lead.
These are just a few of the immediate things we have been working on with each of our hospitals.
We are also seeing great leadership and collaboration across a range of areas including:
● Critical care support planning chaired by Dr Brian Marsh to ensure those who are critically ill have access to services and care they will need throughout the next period.
● Ensuring that our Maternity services continue safely throughout the pandemic, led by Dr Rhona Mahony.
● Prof Conor O’Keane is working with Laboratories in order to bring testing on-site to as many hospitals as is needed across the Group.
● Drive-in testing hubs, with St Michael’s, Dun Laoghaire becoming one of the first sites where patients can safely, quickly and efficiently be tested for Covid-19. You may have seen this featured on RTE News this week.
● Infectious diseases with Dr Paddy Mallon from SVUH and Dr Aoife Cotter in the Mater, who are not just supporting their own hospitals but all hospitals across the Group.
● Securing more much-needed capacity with our estates team looking at modular builds for certain sites.
I have also been truly impressed by the outstanding leadership demonstrated by the hospital management teams across our sites in their preparation and planning for this unprecedented public health crisis. I am very grateful to our senior managers for their dedication to also ensuring that standard service delivery continues wherever possible. They have been working seven days a week, like many of the rest of you, to respond to this crisis. Even in this time of immense pressure, the collegiality and collaboration I have witnessed across all hospitals have been remarkable.
I also want to acknowledge the work of our colleagues in Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs) who are working closely with us to ensure we can transfer patients into step-down and rehabilitation units, again to give us more capacity in our acute hospitals.
These are not ordinary times; everyone is looking to our hospitals and healthcare professionals during this crisis. The commitment they have witnessed so far from all of you has done the country proud and I want to take this time to thank you all for the dedication, support and professionalism you have provided. Your role during this time cannot be overstated.
These are also difficult times. We need to do what we can to mind our physical and mental health, and we need to look out for one another. It is critically important that we care for ourselves and for one another because our patients and our communities will need us as never before.
As you are aware, the situation is changing rapidly and it is important to stay informed. Sharing of information is vital and we see this on our daily teleconferences with all the hospital teams. The HSE has created an information resource for staff and we would encourage you to keep checking it for updates. It can be accessed at: https://healthservice.hse.ie/staff/news/coronavirus-news/
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre website also offers good information and advice for healthcare staff: www.hpsc.ie
Finally, I appeal to you to do everything you can to continue to promote the key messages of hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and social distancing, both at home and in the workplace.
Together we will overcome Covid-19.
Thank you all again.
Mary Day, CEO, IEHG