Allow me to begin by thanking each and every one of you once again for the incredible work you have done in preparing for this unparalleled public health crisis and the leadership and selflessness you have demonstrated across the board, regardless of your area of service or expertise.
As promised in the first of my weekly staff messages last week, the IEHG Senior Management Team is doing everything in our power to support our hospitals at this time and to ensure that they are sufficiently resourced for the unprecedented increase in demand to come.
Below is an update on some of the key areas we have been focusing on over the past week:
• Priority testing for Healthcare Workers is being addressed and due to come on stream shortly. We have highlighted the critical issue of increasing the swabs allocation to the Group to enable priority swabbing for staff and patients.
• We are increasing bed capacity and staffing resources across the Group to manage the system during this crisis. The national agreement to utilise private capacity has been welcome and we are working with hospitals and private providers to bring additional capacity on board.
• Our laboratories are working on ensuring hospital sites have sufficient consumables to ensure continuity of testing and increase testing capability across hospitals.
• Through the Lifeline Ambulance Service, IEHG has procured two dedicated ambulances to support the timely transfer of COVID-19 patients (or non-COVID patients as needed), as well as a vehicle to support the transportation of stock between our member hospitals.
• Along with the ‘Be on Call for Ireland’ and local recruitment drives that are happening across the country, the IEHG Staff Bank is live and focused on recruiting essential workers into the system as quickly as possible.
• National Orthopaedic Hospital Cappagh has been providing very valuable service to our Group hospitals, and also outside the Group, in relation to urgent fractures and plastic surgery.
• Our Cancer Clinical Academic Directorate (CaCAD), under the leadership of Prof Risteárd Ó Laoide, is working to ensure the needs of cancer patients continue to be met during this time.
In relation to PPE, the HSE has confirmed that further shipments will arrive in Ireland in the coming days. It is important that all staff are aware of how, when and why it should be used. There are many resources on the recommended use of PPE available at the moment, including via the HPSC at https://bit.ly/2QNJYKW, and should be brought to the attention of all staff.
I would like to take this time to also mention some of the innovative ideas and initiatives that have developed across our hospitals and health service in responding to this pandemic. There are too many to mention individually but by way of example I wanted to highlight a few instances of colleagues leading the charge on this public health crisis and focusing on ways to support patients and healthcare staff at this time.
• Many thanks to Prof Gráinne Flannelly of the National Maternity Hospital who spearheaded the development of an extremely informative online COVID-19 resource for pregnant women, which has been translated into multiple languages: https://bit.ly/3arl6AA
• A fantastic initiative undertaken by Edward Long, HR Manager in Wexford General Hospital, entitled “Wexford Needs You” will be featured on RTE’s Nationwide this evening at 7pm. Edward has received in excess of 500 job applications from his call-out for staff and volunteers.
• As a gesture of support and recognition, over the past couple of weeks several of our hospitals have been offering complimentary meals to staff.
• The first call centre outside of the HSE to provide coronavirus support was established by our academic partners in UCD, led by Dr Patrick Wall and Prof Mary Codd of the UCD School of Public Health.
• Our colleagues in the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group have developed car stickers for healthcare workers in the event of any further restrictions on public movement. These have been shared with us in IEHG and a Group version will shortly be distributed out across our sites.
As mentioned in my message last week, these are difficult times and as healthcare workers we must ensure to look after our mental health. To that end, a dedicated helpline was launched earlier this week for healthcare workers. The contact details are as follows: Call save 1850 420 420, Monday – Friday: 8am to 8pm and Saturday – Sunday: 9am to 5pm https://bit.ly/2xh4Gfe
As you know, the situation is changing daily and we encourage all staff to stay abreast of updates. Please continue to monitor: https://healthservice.hse.ie/staff/news/coronavirus-news/ and www.hpsc.ie for helpful information and advice for healthcare staff.
As always, please do all you can to continue to promote the messages of hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and social distancing, both in your professional and personal lives.
Thank you all again.
Mary Day, CEO, IEHG