Some frontline health staff waiting a week for Covid-19 results

A nursing union has sought clarification about Covid-19 testing for healthcare workers amid reports that some frontline staff are waiting up to a week for their own results.
Some frontline health staff waiting a week for Covid-19 results
Keeping up the presence on the roads in Cork are Garda Mark O’Connor and Garda Kevin Coughlan on patrol on the Blackrock Road, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

A nursing union has sought clarification about Covid-19 testing for healthcare workers amid reports that some frontline staff are waiting up to a week for their own results.

It comes as new figures show that the hospitals with the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases are all concentrated in Dublin, where 56% of all confirmed cases are located.

As of Friday night, of the just over 4,900 confirmed cases nationally, 1,203 required hospitalisation, with 165 being admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU).

Beaumont Hospital in Dublin had the highest number of Covid-19 patients, and as of Saturday was treating 110 people with the deadly virus, with 16 patients in ICU.

Beaumont is followed by St James’s, which is treating 83 Covid-19 patients, with 19 in ICU, the Mater with 76 total cases, Tallaght Hospital with 72, St Vincent’s with 68 and Connolly Hospital with 54 cases.

Beyond the capital, Cavan Hospital had the highest number, with 33, followed by Letterkenny with 27.

In Munster, University Hospital Limerick was treating 25 patients, with 19 patients in Cork University Hospital (CUH). Of those being treated in CUH, six are in ICU.

Just over a quarter of all confirmed cases are healthcare workers.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation (INMO) said it has now sought clarification from the Government about how the revised criteria for Covid-19 testing is being applied to frontline healthcare staff.

The Irish Examiner is aware of at least one case of a nurse who is based in a major hospital in the south where Covid-19 patients are being cared for, and who began displaying Covid-19 symptoms the weekend before last.

The nurse consulted with their GP and was immediately referred for a Covid-19 swab over a week ago.

The nurse is in precautionary self-isolation pending the results of her swab test but is anxious to return to work to support colleagues if the test proves negative.

But as of yesterday, the nurse was still waiting for the test results.

A spokesman for the INMO said it would have concerns about such a delay for test results for healthcare workers.

He said the union has sought, and is still awaiting, details from the Government about how the Covid-19 testing system is working following a change in the criteria required for test.

Front line staff at the Dunmanway coronavirus testing centre at the Randal Og GAA Club near Ballinacarriga, West Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
Front line staff at the Dunmanway coronavirus testing centre at the Randal Og GAA Club near Ballinacarriga, West Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

If followed a surge in the number of healthcare workers contracting the virus in the early stages of the pandemic here.

A spokesman for the INMO said since the beginning of the pandemic, it has sought priority testing for this cohort of vital health workers.

“The Government recently agreed to expedite testing for health workers, but we are awaiting further details on how this scheme will work,” he said.

“Nurses and midwives are selflessly working in exceptionally difficult circumstances. It is not acceptable that they have to wait for days or more to get results.

“Aside from being the right thing to do, priority testing also makes sense for the health service, ensuring that much-needed workers aren’t simply waiting for tests, unable to provide care.”

It is understood that frontline healthcare workers can be referred for a Covid-19 test by their GP or by the HSE’s occupational health section, and that an appointment for a swab to be taken can be secured within 24 hours.

The latest restrictions in operation since Friday, March 27 mandate that everyone should stay at home, only leaving to:

  • Shop for essential food and household goods;
  • Attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products;
  • Care for children, older people or other vulnerable people - this excludes social family visits;
  • Exercise outdoors - within 2kms of your home and only with members of your own household, keeping 2 metres distance between you and other people
  • Travel to work if you provide an essential service - be sure to practice social distancing

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