It has been another challenging week for our staff and hospitals as the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 continues to increase across the country, as well as the demand for critical care beds. We have also sadly seen a rise in the number of patients who have died from contracting the virus. It is still too early to say what effect the government’s further social distancing measures have had on the spread of coronavirus, but we must be confident that our individual and collective actions will succeed in flattening the curve of this pandemic.
I know many, many of you have been working around the clock this week in various capacities, both on the frontline and behind the scenes, to deal with the surge we are experiencing and you should know that IEHG Senior Management are extremely grateful for your efforts.
Below is an update on some of the key areas of focus over the past week:
• On Wednesday, the City West complex opened for well COVID patients who cannot self-isolate at home. This provided valuable capacity to decant our hospitals; the majority of the patients who were first to be admitted on Wednesday came from IEHG.
• An exercise has been completed with our CHO colleagues to maximise capacity at community level and to identify intermediary beds which can take on stepdown care from the hospitals. These beds will be very important over the next few weeks.
• The agreement reached with private hospitals will also increase capacity in those of our hospitals treating COVID patients.
• Swabbing and testing are ongoing in our hospitals for patients, and staff via Occupational Health departments. We are working with our labs to speed up the process of testing and we should be able to issue results in a more timely manner as more labs come on stream. It has been well documented this week that labs are experiencing challenges in terms of securing supplies of reagent. This is a global problem which is being addressed urgently.
• I would like to congratulate Regional Hospital Mullingar and Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan who have this week brought on much-valued on-site testing facilities.
• The IEHG Procurement Lead is working with Paul Eyre, former Logistics Director with Cognex, to establish a warehousing and logistics facility for the Mater hospital. This arrangement will also be available to the wider IEHG to assist in the rotation of PPE between hospitals to minimise the risk of stock shortages. Paul has kindly offered up his time voluntarily to aid the Group in this critical work and we wish to express our sincere thanks for his assistance.
• This week the government advised healthcare staff to discontinue sharing accommodation in order to limit the spread of the virus. Where staff experience difficulty securing alternative accommodation, we will work with the HSE to determine what options are available.
• IEHG commenced interviews this week for staff nurses for our Staff Bank with 23 candidates interviewed so far, with more interviews scheduled for next week. Applications continue to be received via our online applicant tracking system. A HCA campaign for the Staff Bank will be launched next week.
• With regard to further recruitment, our HR team continues to work on securing other staff, including a number of NCHDs who have returned from Australia, and support service staff in catering, portering and housekeeping.
• As is the case right across the system, we have a high number of staff self-isolating and some that have contracted the virus. We are working to ensure that all necessary services are still adequately resourced and we wish those who are ill a very speedy recovery.
• Finding a solution to childcare provision for our healthcare workers also continues to be a priority.
In relation to PPE, I urge you to continue to bring to the attention of staff recommendations for the correct use of equipment in the management of suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Guidance is available at: https://bit.ly/340VW9r
In other information, the HSE has developed a a national repository of clinical guidance and latest research evidence to help the clinical community to respond to COVID-19. It can be viewed at: https://bit.ly/39And3E
We know that this crisis is going to continue for some time to come. I therefore urge you again to look after yourselves and those around you. If you are in need of support, call 1850 420 420, Mon-Fri: 8am to 8pm and Sat-Sun: 9am to 5pm or go to https://bit.ly/2xh4Gfe
Finally, it has been incredibly heartening to see the outpouring of support for our healthcare workers across the country since this pandemic first hit. I have drawn great strength from the solidarity shown to our health service, and I am sure you have too. On behalf of all our hospitals, I would like to thank all those who have been so generous in fundraising, sending meals and snacks to our hospital staff, and donating vital equipment.
Please stay safe and well.
Mary Day, IEHG CEO