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Hiqa to carry out inspection at Louth nursing home after 23 deaths in five weeks confirmed

In recent weeks, staff and residents in nursing homes have been tested for Covid-19.

LAST UPDATE | 8 May 2020

THE HEALTH INFORMATION and Quality Authority (Hiqa) has confirmed it will carry out an inspection at Dealgan House Nursing Home in Dundalk “in the near future” after it was confirmed there have been 23 deaths among residents since 1 April. 

Many of those deaths were related to Covid-19. 

The managing director of the Louth nursing home, Eoin Farrelly, said his focus is now on extinguishing the outbreak, which is believed to be under control in the home as no new cases have been identified in two weeks. 

“Dealgan House Nursing Home offers our sincere sympathies to the families and friends of those who have died due to Covid 19,” Farrelly said in a statement. 

He said the residents who died were “people whom we got to know and love while caring for them”. 

“All of us are heartbroken at their death and their family’s loss.”

The managing director said the staff are focused on providing care to the residents and trying to normalise life for them as much as public health measures allow. 

“Dealgan House received substantial external support comprising both personnel and equipment, to bring the Covid-19 outbreak under control,” he said. 

Hiqa inspection

In a statement this evening, Hiqa said it wishes to “express its deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of the residents of Dealgan House, Louth, who have passed away in recent weeks”.

“Hiqa is aware of the situation in Dealgan House and since the early stages of the outbreak of Covid-19 has been actively involved in supporting the provider and staff of this nursing home to deliver safe and efficient care, while continuing to maintain regulatory oversight,” Hiqa said. 

“Hiqa has at all times been kept informed of the extensive support provided initially by the HSE’s CHO Area 8 crisis management team, and more recently by the RCSI Hospital Group,” it said. 

“Hiqa is aware that the external support required has reduced significantly over recent days.” 

The watchdog confirmed that it “will be conducting an inspection of Dealgan House under to provisions of the Health Act 2007, as amended, in the near future”.

It was first reported yesterday that 26 people died in the home from Covid-19, as claimed by Sinn Féin Louth TD Ruairí Ó Murchú. 

The TD said he wrote to the Minister for Health Simon Harris about the situation at this nursing home. 

In response, Harris said that he wanted to extended his sympathies to all the families and friends and staff in the nursing home. 

“I will have to liaise with the HSE on the specific question on the RCSI’s involvement. I know it has been playing a proactive role,” he said.

“The deputy wants an assurance that the role will continue. I will revert to him directly or through the HSE on this in the coming days.  To anybody who has any concern about any long-term residential care facility, I point out that Hiqa is there as a regulator.”

This evening, Ó Murchú welcomed the announcement by Hiqa that it is to carry out an inspection on the facility. 

“This is a welcome development,” Ó Murchú said. 

This is a start, but, as I have said on behalf of the Dealgan families before, at the very least there needs to be a preliminary investigation into what happened and how the situation developed here. 

“A fuller, more in depth investigation into what has happened here will also need to follow,” he said. 

In addition, families and staff who have been brave enough to share their grief and worries with me need to be listened to now and all their concerns have to be addressed immediately. 

Nursing home outbreaks

There have been a significant number of deaths from Covid-19 in nursing homes across the country, with questions raised about why the government didn’t respond to the crisis earlier. 

In recent weeks, staff and residents in nursing homes across the country have been receiving tests for Covid-19. 

Last month, RTÉ reported that the RCSI Hospital Group had taken over the operational management of the nursing home.  

Asked about the nursing home at the Department of Health briefing yesterday evening, the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, said he couldn’t comment on an individual cases. 

“There have been some nursing homes that have experienced a significant increase in both cases and some unfortunately where there has been significant mortality in single, specific locations,” he said. 

However, he said that increased testing had contributing to a slowing of the transmission rates across nursing homes. 

With reporting by Hayley Halpin

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