The HSE has unveiled massive isolation and stepdown facilities at the Citywest hotel in Dublin, with capacity for more than 1,000 people. It is the first of a number of such facilities planned, with the HSE also examining sites in Cork, Limerick and Galway.
HSE CEO Paul Reid, chief operations officer Anne O’Connor. and public health medicine consultant Sarah Doyle gave a briefing from Citywest, unveiling the full plans for the facility, which is due to be operational in the coming days.
The Dublin hotel will have two functions. It has 750 beds for people who need to self-isolate. These are due to be available by the end of this week.
These will be available for people referred by their GP and who are unable to self-isolate at home for any particular reason. They may be asymptomatic, showing mild symptoms and awaiting a test result, or having tested positive but showing mild symptoms and therefore not in need of hospital care, said Mr Reid.
He said the facility will also have dedicated exercise areas and that meals will be provided for those who are residing there.
Citywest may also serve as an overflow stepdown facility, with a capacity of 450 beds. This will be for people who were recently in hospital and treated for Covid-19 but are not yet fit to return home and are in need of monitoring.
“It is a facility that we hope not to use but we have to be prepared,” Mr Reid said.
He said the HSE still aims to provide all primary care in hospitals but the overflow stepdown facility is part of contingency planning for a situation where the numbers being treated in hospitals increases beyond existing capacity.
The stepdown facility, if activated, will have dedicated nursing stations and will treat people up until they are ready to be sent home. It will not have ICU facilities and ventilators, said Ms O’Connor.
“These are not for people who require that level of care,” she said.
In addition to the Dublin hotel, the HSE is exploring options for other urban centres.
There are a number of sites in mind, including locations in Cork, Limerick and Galway, with a common plan in place for their functions.
The self-isolation facility in Citywest will take referrals from all over Dublin, but also other areas, officials said.
It is due to be open later this week, while the step-down facility is likely to take two to three weeks to put in place, depending on the situation at the country’s acute hospitals, said Ms O’Connor.