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Written by:
May 1, 2020

Dear colleagues,

As mentioned last week, as we move into the next phase of this public health crisis, the Ireland East Hospital Group (IEHG) is working with its hospitals to develop a recovery plan which will take account of a ‘new normal’ in health service delivery and allow us to resume operations while continuing to live with COVID-19. Through our Clinical Academic Directorates (CADs) and clinical speciality groups, our plan (which will be submitted to the Acute Hospital Division) will examine the impact of COVID-19 on manpower and infrastructure across the system.

As part of this planning, IEHG has looked to Canterbury in New Zealand which, following its devastating earthquake in 2011, demonstrated that good can come out of a crisis. To help cope with the loss of hospital and residential care beds in the quake, a Community Rehabilitation Enablement and Support Team (CREST) service was launched at speed aimed at reducing length of stay once in hospital, reducing the chances of readmission, and delaying admission to residential care. The new, progressive model of care which developed out of the crisis focused on: enabling people to take more responsibility for their own health and well-being; that as far as possible people should stay well in their own homes and communities; and that when people need complex care it should be timely and appropriate.

IEHG is currently shaping what the post-COVID rehab model should look like and seeking to establish a rehab network across our Group. Following on from the opening of our rehabilitation beds in Clontarf and Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan, we take possession of our specialist post-acute care (SPAC) facility in St Mary’s in Phoenix Park on 11 May. This unit is an IEHG-Dublin North City CHO initiative and an example of the integrated, reablement model of care which will be the cornerstone of our recovery plan. We are currently recruiting for our SPAC unit in St Mary’s Hospital in Mullingar and hope to be in a position to open it shortly. We are also looking at rehabilitation opportunities on the southside of Dublin.

Below are this week’s IEHG updates:

• IEHG continues to work closely with our community partners in the context of providing assistance to the residential care sector with a particular focus in Dublin city north and south. A number of our hospitals have deployed a variety of staff including Staff Nurses, CNMs, ANPs, CNSs, Healthcare Assistants, Senior Nursing Management, and Infection Prevention and Control expertise. Senior Medical support continues to be provided by geriatricians and microbiologists.

• An abstract to the XXVIII Congress of the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis, with key input from members of the IEHG VTE Service Review Group, characterising the burden of VTE in IEHG, was accepted as an ePoster at the virtual congress (July 12-14 2020). Venous Thromboembolism (Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism) is a leading, potentially preventable cause of hospital-acquired death and prevention strategies are essential for all inpatients affected with COVID-19. It is strongly recommended that every COVID patient is given a VTE alert card before hospital discharge.

• Our Chief Academic Officer (CAO), Prof Tim Lynch, and his team at the Mater have helped put together an all-Ireland application for an audit of neurological illness during a pandemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome that has been submitted to the National Ethics Committee. It aims to assess the impact of COVID-19 infection on patients with pre-existing neurological conditions.

• UCD Health Affairs has published an article on its website on how IEHG and UCD are working together to combat COVID-19. You can read it here at: https://bit.ly/3cVyPAn

• In last weekend’s Irish Times, Alan Betson went behind the scenes in St Vincent’s University Hospital to speak to staff and see what it is like to work in an Irish COVID-19 hospital. You can read his report here: https://bit.ly/3f0UwRi

There have been many positive personal stories over the last week which have highlighted the incredible patient care being provided by our hospital staff as well as offering hope to us all that this virus can be defeated even in the most trying circumstances. On social media and on RTE News, we witnessed great scenes as patients who had endured long stays in hospital were clapped by family and staff as they left Regional Hospital Mullingar, Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan and St Columcille’s Hospital.

Finally, on behalf of the IEHG Senior Management Team, I would like to sincerely thank Maura Coyle-Meade and Kay Hand, former Directors of Nursing at Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan (OLHN) and St Columcille’s Hospital respectively, who have both come out of their recent retirements to offer assistance at the frontline of this crisis. Maura has returned to OLHN while Kay is lending a hand at Donore Nursing Home in Bray.

Keep safe.

Regards,

Mary Day, IEHG CEO

This message has been edited for online.