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Written by:
May 7, 2020

Dear colleagues,

On Friday, the government published its phased roadmap on returning the country to normality over the coming weeks and months, whilst reminding us that we will be continuing to live with COVID-19 for some time to come. Similarly, in the health service, we have started to receive national guidance on how the acute system will return to restarting non-COVID elective services while being cognisant that the global emergency we have faced has altered the healthcare landscape for the foreseeable future.

As our hospitals commence planning to prepare for the resumption of normal service delivery, as a Group, through our Clinical Academic Directorate (CAD) programmes, we are focusing on infrastructure, work processes, service design, manpower, and the increased demand for COVID aftercare we will begin to witness within key services.

Crucially in this regard, our work to establish an integrated, rehabilitation network across the Group is progressing well and it is our ambition to develop an innovative and progressive model that will best serve our public in the months and years to come. In collaboration with our CHO partners, we will have increased capacity by almost 200 rehab beds across the network, with the potential to increase further bed stock. This is a really important development for the future engineering of integrated rehabilitation and reablement pathways to deliver enhanced patient care.

Last week, I visited our new specialist post-acute care (SPAC) unit in St Mary’s Hospital in Mullingar. This is a newly refurbished facility that will offer 40 rehab beds and access to a multidisciplinary frailty team for older patients leaving an acute hospital. This will open in a phased approach in the coming weeks.  We are planning to open the first beds in our integrated rehabilitation unit in St.Mary’s, Phoenix Park on 18 May.

Last Thursday 30 April, the first patient was discharged, after rehabilitation, from our recently opened 20-bed rehabilitation facility at Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan. This new Community Integrated Rehabilitation and Reablement Unit (CIRRU) is the first of its kind in Co. Meath.

Below are further IEHG updates from this week:

• A number of our hospitals continue to provide essential support to nursing homes in Dublin city, Navan and Mullingar and it is expected that this will continue over the course of the next couple of weeks. I am pleased to say that this support has provided stability to the residential care units and has avoided unnecessary admissions to our very busy acute hospitals.

• With regard to the recent agreement reached with private hospitals, there are now a number of private providers who are technically operating as Section 38 public hospitals within our Group and to whom we have been able to send additional service activity, therefore optimising the flow of patients during this time.

• In terms of procurement, the IEHG PPE Work Group, which has membership from all IEHG hospitals, oversees the rapid sharing of PPE among hospitals to the point of greatest need to ensure safe stock levels across all our hospitals. The work group has retained a logistics provider to enable this stock rotation service. The group has developed and is currently piloting a PPE demand modelling system and dashboard.  This will assist in predicting and preventing PPE shortages and complements national work on PPE demand modelling.

• The HSE has identified www.attendanywhere.com as the preferred interim solution for the roll-out of virtual clinics nationally. Online training and issuing of user licences are being rolled out across the country and each of our hospitals has identified a lead to support this at hospital level.

• The IEHG Ophthalmology services have commenced the complex task of planning the recovery of safe ophthalmology services using a Lean framework. While COVID-19 presents enormous challenges to emergency, out-patient and surgical services, the collaboration across the Group’s ophthalmology services is supporting practical problem-solving and innovative developments.

• Five UCD-led research projects were awarded just under €1.1 million in COVID-19 Rapid Response funding last week. You can read more on the projects funded at: https://bit.ly/2WwCAFQ

• In the week 18-24 April, 16 major surgeries for gynaecological cancers were performed. Capacity made available at the Mater and St Vincent’s private hospitals, coupled with commitment from the IEHG Gynae-Oncology team, has allowed crucial cancer care to continue in spite of current challenges.

I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the 228 students from the UCD School of Medicine who were conferred with medical degrees in a virtual ceremony last week. As newly qualified doctors, each of the graduates will now take up an internship within the Irish healthcare system, applying their expertise and skills to help combat COVID-19.

Thank you all.

Regards,

Mary Day, IEHG CEO

This message has been edited for online.