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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 21 September, 2014

Investigation begins after flooding closes Letterkenny emergency department

The flooding began last night – almost exactly a year after the hospital had suffered similar flooding.

Image: Jimmy Stafford via Twitter

ALMOST A YEAR after it was struck by flooding, Letterkenny General Hospital again found itself dealing with the aftermath of torrential rain last night.

The issue is being investigated, but a local TD believes a full inquiry is warranted.

Flooding was again experienced at the hospital, leading to water leaking into the reception and administrative areas at the Emergency Department.

Photographs showed high waters across the car park and near the entrance to the hospital.

The hospital asked patients not to present themselves at the ED last night, but to consult their GP or travel to Sligo Regional Hospital.

Reopened

After hours of clean-up, the ED at Letterkenny General Hospital has now reopened.

An investigation into the cause of the flood has already begun.

While it is at an early stage, a hospital statement said that the culvert was not blocked.

Last year (on July 26) the main cause of the flooding incident was the fact that the screens became blocked and prevented water from entering the culvert causing the Sprackburn Tributary to overflow, wiping out 40% of the floor space of LGH and eliminating more than 70% of the hospital’s capacity at that time.

Last night’s damage was considerably less than last year’s and the ED was re-opened after three hours with no other services affected, said the hospital.

“There are already improved interim flood management arrangements in place at Letterkenny General Hospital with additional CCTV monitoring and regular inspection of flows and levels in the stream,” continued the statement.

This also includes the location of a digger onsite and access, on a 24-hour basis, to a roster of drivers to provide rapid emergency response.

New storm flow works

The West/North West Hospitals Group has been granted planning permission from Donegal County Council for the construction of a new storm flow routing pipe and associated works at the Letterkenny hospital.

Site works have commenced and are scheduled for completion in autumn 2014. The flood management works, including the new culvert, are estimated to cost approximately €1m.

The results of the investigation will be published and the hospital will review the flood management strategy in light of the new findings.

A statement from Letterkenny General Hospital-West/North West Hospitals Group said the ED returned to normal at 11pm last night:

… after a clean up was completed in the reception and administrative areas that had experienced a very low level of flooding due to water leaking into these areas following torrential rain in the Letterkenny area earlier in the evening.

The hospital’s ED went off call for three hours from 8pm to 11pm to expedite the clean up, it said, adding that clinical areas in the ED and hospital services in general were not affected.

Flooding in the roadway and car park has partly abated and people are advised to use extreme caution if coming to the ED. The emergency services remain at the scene in anticipation of more heavy rainfall.

“Disgrace”

TD Thomas Pringle has described the flooding as “a disgrace”.

He has called for a public inquiry into the matter and said that for this to be happening a second time is “simply unacceptable”.

Norovirus

Seán Murphy, General Manager, Letterkenny General Hospital, stated:

I want to acknowledge the hospital staff, the ambulance service, the staff at Sligo Regional and Altagelvin Hospitals, our local GPs, the fire service, the council and the Gardaí for their cooperation. We regret any inconvenience caused to patients and their families.

He said that although services are now back to normal, they would like to remind the public to keep the Emergency Department for emergencies and to contact their GP or GP Out of Hours services in the first instance.

They are also reminding people that visiting the Short Stay Ward in the hospital has been suspended for the time being due to cases of norovirus on the ward.

If relatives are concerned about patients on this ward, a nominated person from each family can liaise with the Clinical Nurse Manager on the ward regarding planned visiting. The contact number is 074 912 5888, extension 4084.

People who have vomiting and diarrhoea symptoms should not attend the hospital, but should contact their GP in the first instance if they have serious concerns.

Read: Fire crews on the scene of Letterkenny hospital flooding>

Read: Letterkenny Hospital partially evacuated after flooding destroys ground floor>

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