Massive logistics operation to keep hospitals open

Massive logistics operation to keep hospitals open

By Eoin English

The Coast Guard and Civil Defence have been called in today to transport critical care staff and priority patients to Cork University Hospital (CUH).

St John's Ambulance were helping the HSE ambulance fleet with 4x4 ambulances across the city and county and farmers are organising a fleet of tractors in West Cork this afternoon to ensure that staff can get to work at Bantry General Hospital.

Dozens of volunteer drivers were using a fleet of 4x4 jeeps today to transport patients, including those who require dialysis, from snowbound areas in East, West and North Cork to CUH for treatment, and then home again.

Up to 48 nurses couldn't get to work at the hospital this morning and the available nursing resources were deployed to ensure continuation of care for the most critically ill patients.

Some staff stayed in nearby city hotels and bed and breakfasts last night, and will do so again tonight.

Staff rosters have also been changed to ensure that those who live closest to the hospital will be on call over the next 24 to 48-hours.

And the hospital's closed outpatients area has been converted into a makeshift hostel to accommodate up to 40 doctors, surgeons and nurses who plan to sleep on its couches overnight to ensure they are available for work in the morning.

CUH's director of nursing, Mary Owens, described the scenario facing management and staff as challenging.

But she said they are "getting on with it" with the help of the various voluntary agencies, in the knowledge that they can call on the Defence Forces if required.

She said their focus yesterday was very much on hemodialysis patients who need to have their treatment.

"We were very dependent yesterday on voluntary organisations like the civil defence," she said.

"We got 71 or the 72 patients scheduled for dialysis yesterday in. "There was only one man that we didn't get, but we got him in today."

The patients who were dialysed last night were kept in the hospital overnight, and were transported home this morning in civil defence and coast guard vehicles.

They also coordinated the collection this morning of up to 80 patients who were due to attend for dialysis today in three waves - at 7am, 1pm and 6pm.

"The same planning continues today. It's about managing our resources with the help of civil defence, in particular, and really strong teamwork," she said.

Ms Owens, who hasn't been home since Monday, praised staff who have been flexible and committed to their roles.

"We are flat out trying to get staff and patients in and out. But that's not all. We need staff in to feed patients, and to prepare up to 3,00 meals today alone, and we are working on that too," she said.

Victor Shine, the volunteer deputy area officer with Crosshaven Coast Guard unit, was involved in the transport operation and house calls.

"We have four vehicles and are going as far west as Skibbereen and as Far East as Youghal," he said.

He reported for duty as third officer of Cork City Fire Brigade at 2pm.

CUH chief executive, Tony McNamara, said the response by all has been phenomenal.

"It's a reminder to us all that the commitment of people who work in the public service, as public servants, is exemplary. We are seeing it first hand here," he said.

The uncertainty about the availability of staff is the most pressing issue over the next 24-hours, he said.

"That poses a serious challenge for us tonight and tomorrow," he said.

"There are arrangement nationally and locally to allow us access the resources of the state, if required.

"We have made contingencies, and cancelled surgeries and clinics, to make sure that the staff that we have are deployed to provide critical cover."

A total of 700 outpatient appointments scheduled for today and tomorrow have been cancelled, and 15 surgeries due to be performed tomorrow have also been cancelled. Five surgeries that had to go ahead will be performed today.

Mr McNamara said management are keeping the situation under constant review.

More on this topic

Latest: Importation of fodder supplies could begin as soon as tomorrow, says Michael CreedLatest: Importation of fodder supplies could begin as soon as tomorrow, says Michael Creed

Family of Cork man paralysed in Storm Emma accident hope he will regain use of armsFamily of Cork man paralysed in Storm Emma accident hope he will regain use of arms

Storm Emma drink sales help lift grocery by €9.6mStorm Emma drink sales help lift grocery by €9.6m

Over €50,000 raised for 'determined' Cork teenager injured during Storm EmmaOver €50,000 raised for 'determined' Cork teenager injured during Storm Emma


More in this Section

Man dies after being struck near Kildare on M7 last nightMan dies after being struck near Kildare on M7 last night

Warnings of heavy rainfall and damaging gales from Cork to Donegal as Storm Atiyah passesWarnings of heavy rainfall and damaging gales from Cork to Donegal as Storm Atiyah passes

Just in time for Christmas - ONE winner of €6.8m LottoJust in time for Christmas - ONE winner of €6.8m Lotto

Man killed in crash between lorry and carMan killed in crash between lorry and car


Lifestyle

Overshadowed by its giant neighbours it may be, but the smallest of the main Blasket islands, Beginish, is no less impressive in its own right.The Islands of Ireland: The miracle of Beginish

‘The days of our years are threescore years and ten — Psalm 90How to tell an animal’s age in a heartbeat

We often hear how nature will do well, even come back from the brink of extinction, if given a chance and some human help.Birds of prey on the rise

In our country we still have places that bear no evidence of disturbance by man, that are in their pristine state and rich with all the elements that feed the spirit and deliver us into the world beyond the skin of the time and circumstances we live in.Unique ambience of Dursey Island under threat

More From The Irish Examiner