ONE of the first community assessment hubs in the country, which will provide enhanced support for people who have tested positive for Covid-19, will be opened in Letterkenny this week. The facility will provide timely assessment for people who feel symptomatic, who feel their symptoms are becoming worse or if their GP feels they need clinical intervention.
Chief Operations Officer of the HSE Anne O’Connor made the announcement yesterday and said the hubs will be operated out of primary care centres and will begin accepting referrals by the middle of this week. Letterkenny is among a number of locations chosen and the hubs are being set up in areas that need them the most. The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 has risen to 81 in Donegal, up one case yesterday.
New figures from the HSE show that Letterkenny University Hospital had 27 confirmed cases of Covid-19 on site, which outside of the Dublin hospitals, is second highest number after Cavan. Beaumont Hospital in Dublin was the hospital with the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases with 110, followed by St James’ Hospital (83), the Mater (76), Tallaght (72), St Vincent’s (68), and Connolly Hospital (54).
The new community assessment hubs are aimed maximising the number of people who can be cared for at home to reduce the numbers attending the already swamped hospitals. There will be 12 to 15 hubs in place nationwide by the end of the week and they will operate seven days a week.
The hubs will operate from 8am to 8pm daily. The sites that will launch this week include Letterkenny, Galway, Limerick, Cork, Wicklow, Drogheda and Athlone.
Speaking at the HSE briefing Ms O’Connor said: “Community assessment hubs will provide enhanced community based support for people who have tested positive, starting on Monday to operate with staff and training and there will be a soft launch. We will start accepting referrals and seeing patients from the middle of the week. People will be referred by their GP and they will not be places people turn up to. The idea being that we adhere to all correct infection control procedures.”
Ms O’Connor said these hubs will help to ensure that GP practices can continue to see people who do not have the virus so they can continue to visit their doctor for other ailments. The hubs will be staffed by GPs, nurses, allied health professionals, paramedics, administrative staff, and support staff. They will allow for the timely transfer of any patients that need to go to the hospital.
Ms O’Connor said a significant amount of work had gone into setting up this new hub network.
“This is a new way of working. We had to set up a whole new approach in terms of a model of care and referral pathways. I want to acknowledge the significant work gone in,” she said.
Over the next two weeks the HSE hope to have 40 of these hubs set up around the country.
“For us a key priority is that we are putting the hubs where the highest need is,” said Ms O’Connor.
“Each community health organisation and crisis management team identified sites and we have a priority in the east at the moment based on numbers and have identified 40 locations but how and when they scale up will be based on the demand we have for them.”
Local GPs have signed up to work in the hubs and Ms O’Connor said they are very happy with the numbers willing to come on board.