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11 Covid-19 related deaths recorded in two weeks at Dublin care home for older people

The HSE said since 2 April, 11 people with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 have died.

Image: Shutterstock/Chinnapong

Updated Apr 17th 2020, 9:19 AM

11 PEOPLE WITH a confirmed or suspected case of Covid-19 have died at one older person care home in Dublin over the past two weeks, the HSE has confirmed. 

St Mary’s Hospital in the Phoenix Park, Co Dublin is run by the HSE and cares for older people. 

The HSE said ten people who died in the home had been diagnosed with Covid-19, and one further person who died was suspected to have the disease but was still awaiting test results.

“We can sadly confirm that since 2 April 2020 there have been 11 Covid-19 related deaths of residents in St Mary’s Hospital,” the HSE said in a statement to TheJournal.ie

“We offer our deepest sympathies to their family and friends and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.” 

The hospital has 198 residential places in total and it is led by full-time consultant geriatricians along with full-time medical and nursing management on site at all times.

“We remain in contact with relatives and next-of-kin of all residents within St Mary’s Hospital in relation to any suspect or confirmed cases of Covid-19,” the HSE said. 

Any relatives with queries relating to the care of a resident at St Mary’s is asked to contact the HSE directly. 

“The safety and wellbeing of our residents and staff is our priority. Many of the team working in St Mary’s Hospital worked closely with residents over a long period, and we also offer them our sympathies,” the HSE said. 

Harris pledges support

There are now over 200 nursing home clusters of Covid-19 cases in Ireland. 

Yesterday, the HSE said that 17 people were still living in a residential centre in Portlaoise, Co Laois, where eight patients with Covid-19 died over the bank holiday weekend. They will have their conditions reviewed. 

There have been criticisms and accusations that the government failed to properly prepare nursing homes for the challenge of the virus and ultimately reacted too late. As things stand, over 30% of nursing homes have a confirmed or suspected Covid-19 case. 

Speaking this morning on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, Health Minister Simon Harris said that testing is to begin on people living in nursing homes and residential settings who are not showing symptoms of coronavirus.

He said that the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) will meet on Friday to discuss measures being taken to tackle the spread in nursing homes.

“We are making very good progress as a country but we need to redouble out efforts in relation to residential settings, and sadly we know this vicious, dangerous virus is having a particularly devastating impact on older people with underlying health conditions,” he said.

“Today we are going to see a number of more measures taken, particularly an increase in extra testing in our residential settings.

“We need to start testing asymptomatic people, and the HSE today will start using the ambulance service to carry out more tests.”

Harris added that nurses are being redeployed from the health service to residential settings “in real time” and the same would be done with doctors during the crisis. 

He also said Hiqa would take a leading role in supporting nursing homes over the coming weeks.

In the Dáil yesterday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also faced questions about the management of nursing homes during the Covid-19 crisis.

Professor Jack Lambert, professor of infectious diseases at the Mater and Rotunda hospitals, said yesterday that the spread of Covid-19 in nursing homes is “a catastrophe in the making”.

Lambert told RTÉ Radio 1′s Today with Séan O’Rourke that nursing homes need to be a priority, stating that under-utilised staff should be sent to “every single nursing home in Ireland”.

Varadkar said nursing homes are at the forefront of the government’s mind, stating that they won’t be the forgotten frontline. He said help is not getting to them as quickly as he would like it to, such is the scale of the problem.

He said the virus will take a significant toll on nursing homes, stating once a virus gets into a setting it is very hard to contain it.

Varadkar said just under 70% of the deaths are happening in hospitals, but acknowledged that many older people move from nursing homes to hospital and subsequently die in hospital.

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