Letterkenny Covid-19 hub closes this afternoon

THE Covid-19 community assessment hub at Kilmacrennan Road, Letterkenny, will close for the last time today.
The centre was established by the HSE last year to help manage the increase of Covid-19 (coronavirus) cases in the community.
The facility provided an important safety valve in keeping numbers down, Intensive Care beds free and Letterkenny University Hospital from being overwhelmed.
More than 3,200 people attended appointments in Letterkenny which was one of the first hubs in the country to open on April 14, 2020.
It the busiest centre in CHO region, which covers Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal, and fourth busiest in the country. At one stage, almost twenty per cent (19pc) were being referred to hospital with the balance of patients managed in the community.
Doctor Paul Armstrong is Clinical Lead at the facility that was established by the HSE to reduce the numbers attending hospitals.
“It was one of the busiest in the country and is the last to close,” Dr Armstrong said.
A post Covid assessment service, which is being run by the respiratory nurses, will continue.
“The respiratory nurses continue to see a lot of people with post Covid symptoms. Many are getting long Covid and the consequences of it need to be followed up,” he said.
“The numbers seen in the Letterkenny hub were in the thousands and it certainly provided a service for people who were acutely unwell. In the early days, when most people were not vaccinated, it provided a safe place for them to be assessed.
“We think that the patient experience was positive. In most cases they were given same day appointments and dealt with efficiently. Some were sent home, some were sent back to the GP while others were sent to hospital,” Dr Armstrong said. The number of new Covid-19 cases continues to decline steadily, but experts warn there is still work to do to keep the pandemic under control.
“The numbers are down significantly and it’s affecting younger people who are getting less ill. Vaccinations are ramping up and they are working. Hopefully we’re over the worst of this and coming out the other side,” Dr Armstrong said.
The Letterkenny community assessment hub had a clinical staff of eight at any one time. These included two GPs working with two nurses, a care attendant and office staff all seconded from routine work cancelled during the Covid-19 crisis.
“It wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the staff who have done a fantastic job over the past year or more. The nurses, the physiotherapist, the care attendants, the cleaner who was cleaning every room after everybody was seen. There was a huge team of people who made it work,” he said.
Meanwhile, the cyber attack continues to have a significant impact on services.
“It’s had a huge impact and slowly they’re managing to get things back online once more. It’s been very disruptive for both patients and staff. Another problem is that we haven’t been getting daily updates on Covid numbers in the county and, as a result, we’re not entirely sure where we’re at. That said, the numbers are well down and people are not as sick,” Dr Armstrong said.

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