LUH staff off due to Covid-19 tops 180 for first time

Letterkenny University Hospital

THE number of staff at Letterkenny University Hospital who are now off work or self-isolating as a result of a Covid-19 infection outbreak had risen to 182 yesterday, up from record highs of 170 last week.
Those affected include staff who tested positive for Covid-19 through workplace and community transmission, symptomatic staff, staff who are close contacts of a positive case, and staff who are cocooning because they are considered in an at-risk category. It comes as the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination campaign continues in Letterkenny University Hospital.
In the first instance the vaccine is being offered to staff directly providing care to confirmed and suspect Covid-19 cases including the intensive care unit (ICU), the Emergency Department and the Red zone wards. This includes support staff and clerical staff working in these areas also.
“LUH is also supporting the vaccination of other groups such as GPs, community staff and residents in Long Stay Residential Facilities,” a hospital spokesperson said.
“As of Friday 15 January, almost 900 health care workers have been vaccinated at LUH. Vaccine clinics will be scheduled according to the availability of the vaccine and all staff in the hospital will be offered the vaccine,” she added.
Half of patients infected
Meanwhile, half of the patients currently in Letterkenny University Hospital have Covid-19, latest figures reveal.
As of 8pm on Wednesday, there were 103 positive Covid-19 cases among patients in Letterkenny University Hospital with five patients in the Intensive Care Unit.
It follows confirmation that patients have been transferred from both Letterkenny and Mayo hospitals to the ICU at University Hospital, Galway, in recent days due to capacity issues.
The rapid spread of Covid-19 in the community since Christmas is such that there have been nearly 3,000 new cases recorded in Donegal since the new year. On December 31, the number of cases stood at 4,325 and following the 84 cases on Wednesday, the number now stands at 7,186.
In the last 14 days to January 19, there have been 1,894 confirmed cases in Donegal and the county now has a 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 population of 1,189.8. Ten counties in the Republic of Ireland now have a worse infection rate than Donegal whereas prior to Christmas, the county was consistently at the top of that list.
Critical phase
As Donegal reaches a critical phase in the latest wave of the pandemic, Mr Sean Murphy, General Manager, Letterkenny University Hospital has called on the people of the county to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
While there are a total of 362 beds in Letterkenny, the pandemic has left the hospital working off a much reduced capacity in more recent times.
“The issue with bed pressure isn’t always about Covid. We have to assume that each and every patient who presents to our Emergency Department may have Covid as we await their test results.
“Therefore, they need to be put into single rooms as, if they don’t have Covid and we put them in a Covid ward we expose them and, conversely, if they do have Covid and we put them in a Covid-free ward then we expose the other patients.“One of the big challenges for us at the moment is the amount of times that we have to move patients within the hospital.
“When test results come back we take the patient out of the single room to make room for the next patient so there’s a lot of moving around and I would like to thank them for their understanding. Single room capacity is one of the major pressures we are facing at the present time,” Mr Murphy said.
“We have 50 maternity beds, 25 in paediatrics plus twenty more in Medical Rehab where we’re not admitting patients at the moment. All of a sudden that 362 bed number has dropped by almost one hundred for general admissions. Then there’s ICU and HDU beds so these days we’re finding that almost half our bed capacity is taken up with Covid positive patients.
“There’s also patients presenting to ED with other issues each day. Two-thirds of those presenting most days are not Covid related. Earlier in the month there were a lot of fractures following black ice while there’s always heart attacks, strokes and other non-Covid related illnesses presenting every day,” Mr Murphy said.
Before this latest surge, the highest number of Covid positive patients being treated in LUH at any given time since the pandemic started last March was forty-six.

Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere

and get access to our archive editions dating back to 2007
Every Thursday
Every Monday

Donegal News is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. St. Anne's Court, Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland