Surge in attendances at UHL emergency department

Surge in attendances at UHL emergency department


Photo: © Pat Flynn

UL Hospitals Group is urging members of the public to consider all care options before attending the Emergency Department (ED) at University Hospital Limerick (UHL), which is managing extremely high levels of presentations this afternoon.

The department has for the past month been experiencing high attendances by significant numbers of very sick, non-COVID patients, while UHL continues to manage demand for inpatient beds from people with active COVID-19 infection and those who have been de-listed but continue to recover from the disease.

The ED at UHL is the Mid-West region’s main emergency treatment admission pathway for COVID-19 patients, and we ask the public to help us protect the safety of all patients and staff by only presenting at the department in the event of a genuine life-threatening emergency or illness.

Attendances at our ED have regularly exceeded 200 per day over the past month, compared with average daily attendances of 197 during 2019. During March 2021, attendances of 200 and more at the ED have been the norm, with average week-day presentations running at approximately 211. Between 8am on Monday and 8am this morning (Wednesday), a total of 490 patients attended the ED (249 on Monday, 241 on Tuesday).

We are sorry that any admitted patient faces a long wait for a bed, and we are focusing on all aspects of patient flow, including access to diagnostic tests that help ensure patient discharge or transfer in a timely manner. All efforts are being made to ensure that physical distancing is maintained, and wait times are kept to a minimum, and we want to reassure the public that all our patients continue to receive expert medical care while they wait.

Not all patients are waiting on trolleys in the Emergency Department. Most are in designated bed spaces (cubicles, bays and beds) in the ED (our COVID-19 emergency admission pathway), and in the non-COVID emergency admission stream of the Acute Medical Assessment Unit and Acute Surgical Assessment Unit. Admitted patients are also waiting in designated surge capacity. However, this in no way minimises the upset and inconvenience that people feel when they experience lengthy wait times for a hospital bed.

There is a range of alternatives available in the Mid-West that are appropriate for less serious illnesses, including family doctors, out-of-hours GP services, and local pharmacies.

The Injury Units at Ennis is open from 8am to 8pm daily and is an excellent option for treatment of broken bones, dislocations, sprains, strains, wounds, scalds and minor burns.

Photo: © Pat Flynn 2020

If you do have symptoms of COVID-19, it is important that you do not go to the Emergency Department or your GP. Ring them in advance for advice, and avoid contact with other people by self-isolating. In a medical emergency if you have severe symptoms, call 112 or 999.

However, if you are seriously injured or ill or are worried your life is at risk the ED will assess and treat you as a priority.