Covid-19: CUH remains under 'particular pressure'

Yesterday, 23 patients in CUH were in need of critical care - 18 of whom were in the hospital's Covid-19-specific ICU
Covid-19: CUH remains under 'particular pressure'

420 Covid-19-positive patients were being treated at Cork University Hospital yesterday. File Picture

Cork University Hospital (CUH) remains under "particular pressure" from rising numbers of Covid-19 admissions. 

That's according to Chief Operations Officer for the South/Southwest Hospital Group, Dr Orla Healy. 

Dr Healy was speaking to Morning Ireland this morning, in the wake of CUH's appeal for volunteers to help staff additional critical care beds at the hospital last weekend

Dr Healy said CUH had struggled to recruit staff, even in the pre-Covid era, and that the pandemic had exacerbated the issue. 

She said pre-existing staffing issues at the hospital, together with the fact that 150 nurses are now out as a result of Covid-19, had increased pressure on what was already one of the country's busiest hospitals. 

Yesterday, 420 Covid-19-positive patients were being treated at CUH.

Dr Healy said that while some previously absent nurses had been able to return to work in the last couple of weeks, 13 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurses were still out as a result of the virus. 

As of 8pm yesterday there were 136 patients with Covid-19 being treated at CUH, with 23 of these in need of critical care.

18 ICU patients were in the Covid-19-specific unit at the hospital. The other five patients were in CUH's general ICU.

“The situation is being managed. The rosters are staffed, and we have beds and equipment and ICU staff," Dr Healy said.

She said that ideally, one ICU qualified member of staff would be available for each ICU bed, but that staffing issues had made this impossible. 

Dr Healy said CUH staff "were working in tandem with ICU-qualified staff" to tackle the issue.

'Overwhelming response' to appeal

Dr Healy said last week's appeal was met with an "overwhelming response" and that surgical and non-consultant staff, as well as GPS and social care professionals from Waterford and elsewhere, had made themselves available. 

Over 70 extra doctors and nurses have been rostered for duty for the next 10 days to cover the unit.

Looking forward, Dr Healy said CUH and the wider South/Southwest hospital group were dependent on decreases in overall Covid-19 prevalence in the wider community. 

A decrease in cases would help to alleviate the pressure CUH and other hospitals were currently experiencing, she said. 

Dr Healy urged people to continue to observe restrictions so more people did not end up in hospital and subsequently in intensive care.

National picture

Nationally, HSE CEO Paul Reid said yesterday that the number of people in intensive care units will “hold if not grow” in the coming days.

Paul Reid said ICU admissions are a “real challenge” with delayed discharges from units and an increased number of deaths.

Speaking last night, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said the strain on Irish hospitals was the worst it has been in the history of the state. 

"We must not let down our guard against this highly infectious disease and the risk it poses to ourselves and those most medically vulnerable to infection," he said.

"There is a huge volume of disease in the country and the recent surge in cases continues to place an unprecedented strain on ICUs, hospitals and other frontline healthcare services," he added.

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