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Written by:
May 21, 2020

Dear colleagues,

On Monday, the government introduced the first phase of its plan to ease lockdown measures and return Irish society to a working level of normality again. It is incumbent on us all to continue to abide by the public health advice, both in our personal and professional lives, and ensure that we continue to lower the reproduction number (R number) of the virus to the greatest extent possible.  

As you are aware, the health service is very much focused on the resumption of normal service and Scheduled Care is gradually recommencing across our Group. We are working closely with all hospitals to restart elective services, with priority being given to cancer cases and time-dependent surgeries and interventions.

Significant work has been undertaken to redesign pathways to ensure staff can deliver care in a manner that complies with social distancing guidelines and in line with infection control requirements. This has necessitated redesign of admission and care pathways which, in many cases, will result in a considerable reduction in capacity and the number of patients seen per clinics. There has been a total redesign of the pathway for those attending OPD to ensure waiting times in clinics are minimised.

There have been several innovative approaches to overcoming the challenges posed by ageing infrastructure and hospitals have been working to maximise the numbers who can be treated in private hospitals.

Use of telehealth, telephone and video consultation is being rapidly rolled out to minimise the numbers of patients who need to attend hospitals.

We expect numbers of patients treated to increase considerably in the coming weeks.

I want to sincerely thank all our hospital teams for their work on the resumption of these services.

Below are further IEHG COVID updates from this week:

• With regard to our ‘Slí Abhaile’ COVID-19 Integrated Rehabilitation and Reablement model, we are hopeful that the first 15 beds in our specialist post-acute care facility in St Mary’s in Phoenix Park will open on 3 June. These are extremely important beds as patients recover from COVID and will offer the vital rehabilitation required.  

• Over the last number of weeks, our Chief Director of Nursing & Midwifery and our Director of Quality & Patient Safety commenced a schedule of onsite visits to understand, observe and support sites in the implementation of work that has been undertaken to date in: access to the Emergency Department (streaming COVID and non-COVID patients), redesign of pathways, increasing out-patient activity in line with new ways of working, PPE issues, challenges and experiences regarding IPC issues, Occupational Health resources and site activity. Sites visited to date include St Luke’s General Hospital, Carlow/Kilkenny, Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan, Wexford General Hospital and Regional Hospital Mullingar. IEHG Senior Management has been truly impressed by the work at the frontline of this crisis and the efforts of our hospital teams to protect staff and patient safety at all times.

• Our private hospital partners are aiding our plans to resume normal service as we continue to transfer activity.

Recruitment continues for a variety of posts in our new post-acute/rehab care settings, with the first starters for our Staff Bank commencing this week.

UCD's Prof Dominic Zerulla has been awarded a special Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Future Innovator Prize. The researcher from the UCD School of Physics, and his team at PEARlabs Technologies, have received €500,000 in recognition of the potential impact of their project to develop a highly innovative imaging solution that enables ultra-fast video-rate nanoscale optical microscopy. PEARlabs, a UCD spin-out company was founded by Professor Zerulla in 2018, with the support of NovaUCD. You can read more at: https://bit.ly/2XfRhNZ

On Monday, the Mater launched its VTE Alert Card initiative. This patient safety alert card is incredibly important and every hospitalized patient, particularly those with COVID, should receive one. By giving every patient a VTE alert card, we can save lives. Your hospital will have received these cards for distribution. Prof Fionnuala Ní Áinle, Consultant Haematologist at the Mater, was behind the launch and is also currently leading the Irish element of an international trial studying if blood thinners can help patients with coronavirus avoid intensive care. You can read more on this at: https://bit.ly/2WOaQ0E

Keep safe.

Regards,

Mary Day, IEHG CEO