All routine outpatient appointments and the majority of elective procedures are being cancelled at Ennis General Hospital and University Hospital Limerick and this Thursday and Friday as both hospitals manage active outbreaks of Covid-19.
Significant numbers of staff are currently off work and self-isolating having either tested positive for Covid-19 or been designated as close contact. Outbreak control teams established in both locations are working closely with public health and occupational health colleagues and all the relevant HPSC guidance is being followed as we work to contain the virus and to protect patients and staff. Contact tracing and testing of staff and patients is continuing and we are putting into effect all the appropriate infection control measures to mitigate the risk.
We have experienced considerable staffing challenges in recent days and just under 50 patients had their procedures cancelled this Monday, November 9th.
Today, the Group’s Hospital Crisis Management Team has taken the difficult decision to cancel most scheduled care at UHL and Ennis for the remainder of this week. These matters are being kept under continuous review and we will advise later this week on appointments and procedures which are scheduled for UHL and Ennis next week. St John’s Hospital, Nenagh Hospital, University Maternity Hospital Limerick and Croom Orthopaedic Hospital continue to operate as normal.
Patients whose procedure or appointment is affected by the cancellations are being contacted directly by the hospital in advance. Affected patients will be rescheduled at the earliest opportunity.
The following services will continue to operate this Thursday and Friday
– Emergency/trauma theatre
– Cancer and other time-critical surgery (patients being contacted directly)
– Cancer Day Ward (chemotherapy and radiotherapy)
– Cancer rapid access clinics (breast, lung, prostate)
– Dermatology melanoma clinic
– Urgent outpatient appointments
– Palliative care
The Emergency Department at UHL continues to operate 24-7 for emergency cases. At Ennis Hospital the Injury Unit and Medical Assessment Unit continue to operate. Separate Covid/query Covid and non-Covid pathways are in place to keep patients safe.
As has been the case since the start of the pandemic, patients with any symptoms of Covid-19 are asked not to attend the hospital or any healthcare facility but to phone their GP for advice. Further advice on the symptoms of Covid 19 is available at www.hse.ie
Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group, commented: “We regret the impact these service disruptions will have on our patients, many of whom have faced long waits for their appointments or their surgery and many of whom will have been following the guidelines and self-isolating in advance of same. These measures however, are now necessary in the interests of patient and staff safety as we manage a complex situation involving multiple outbreaks. The ED remains open at UHL for patients who need emergency care and is vital they continue to attend in such cases.”
Prof Brian Lenehan, Chief Clinical Director, UL Hospitals Group, said: “The volume of staff currently self-isolating having come into contact with Covid-19 is now such that we are curtailing scheduled care to concentrate resources on emergency presentations and on inpatients. This will also serve to reduce footfall in our hospitals in the coming days. Such cancellations are provided for in our escalation plan. We very much regret the impact this will have on patients and we will reschedule the affected patients as soon as possible.
Our immediate focus is on providing a safe environment for all patients and also on supporting our staff, many of whom are now anxious for their own health and the health of their loved ones. The response of their colleagues in maintaining essential patient services continues to be exemplary,” said Prof Lenehan.