New Covid community hub treats homeless and other vulnerable people

A Covid-19 community assessment hub based in a major acute hospital is caring for homeless and other vulnerable people unable to access treatment.
New Covid community hub treats homeless and other vulnerable people
Health Minister Simon Harris being tested at the new community assessment hub. Pic: Julien Behal Photography

A Covid-19 community assessment hub based in a major acute hospital is caring for homeless and other vulnerable people unable to access treatment.

The new hub at the Mater Hospital in Dublin, officially opened by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, will treat those most marginalised in the inner city.

The hub has a mobile as well as a hospital-based assessment unit so it will be able to reach out to people living in poverty and those living in congregated settings.

Marginalised groups often live in overcrowded settings where physical distancing and self-isolation or cocooning is difficult or impossible and this increases the spread of the virus.

Safetynet and the Mater Hospital, together with the support of the HSE, are providing the bespoke service.

Mr Harris said the community assessment hub provided a rapid response service to test for Covid-19 among people who were homeless, those living in extreme poverty, undocumented migrants and other vulnerable groups in the inner city.

“The number of cases of Covid-19 among people who are homeless is less than expected and this is a testament to the effectiveness of this targeted approach,” he said.

Consultant in infectious diseases and inclusion health at the Mater Hospital, Dr Tara McGinty, said the Covid Hub solution was a much needed and valuable addition to the resources needed to protect and treat the most vulnerable.

The Mater Hospital is making a purpose-built assessment facility available to the medical charity, Safetynet Primary Care, to assess and treat patients from marginalised communities.

Safetynet’’s chief executive, Dr Fiona O’’Reilly, said the partnership with the Mater and HSE increased their capacity to assist vulnerable people without access to care.

Safetynet Primary Care has reconfigured its services to respond to the Covid-19 health crisis so it can identify, triage, test and treat homeless and vulnerable people.

Chief executive of the Mater, Alan Sharp, said the partnership was very much in keeping with the key ethos of SláinteCare, which was about hospitals and the community working closely together to deliver the highest quality care at the most appropriate level.

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