More difficult weeks ahead for Letterkenny hospital


IT’S been another unforgiving week in Donegal’s fight against Covid-19.

As of 8pm on Tuesday, there were 103 inpatients positive with Covid-19 in Letterkenny University Hospital and three patients in the Intensive Care Unit.


On Sunday evening, patients had to wait in ambulances outside before being admitted to the hospital.


LUH General Manager Sean Murphy wrote to clinical staff yesterday, Wednesday, as they continue to struggle to find space for the amount of Covid positive patients that are in the hospital.

There were 79 positive patients in LUH on Sunday but the situation has got considerably worse since.

“We’re not seeing any decrease in the number of patients presenting with Covid-19 and we’re seeing very significant pressures on the wards. We’re also seeing high numbers in the community and among staff,” Mr Murphy said.


The General manager said he was not expecting any major reduction in those numbers presenting over the next two to three weeks.


Referring back to last Sunday evening, Mr Murphy said there was a delay in offloading ambulances as all the beds were full in the Emergency Department and a decision was made to triage patients in the ambulances.

He said there were a lot of very ill patients, not all of them with Covid, that required admission. He added that they were able to open 11 extra beds after staff responded to the call to come in.


By Tuesday, the General Manager said that there were almost 170 staff members absent due to Covid-19. This includes staff who have Covid-19, 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.

Yesterday, 136 new cases were reported in Donegal, bringing the total over the past two weeks alone to 2,359 while the 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 now stands at 1,481.9

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.

“Staff continue to do such a brilliant job – they really do. I would like to apologise to people who are having their investigations delayed at this time. Before Christmas I was hoping of having a lot more surgeries up and running in the New Year once we got our outbreaks under control but the post-Christmas wave was a lot worse than expected,” Mr Murphy said.

“We’ve another few difficult weeks ahead of us yet,” he added.


Cllr Ciaran Brogan has praised their professionalism and dedication of all healthcare workers.

“Sometimes we only hear about the negative stories. But there are many positive stories out there, too, and a lot of people have come out the other side of the virus. Together, we can and we will beat this virus. If we can all do our little bit of lifting, that will lighten the load for everyone. We have it in our gift to keep this pandemic under control,” Cllr Brogan said.

“The next few weeks will be critical and hopefully we can overcome the huge challenges this pandemic has posed. The roll-out of the vaccination programme has commenced and will be ramped up over the coming months. This should give us all hope,” he added.

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