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The sign for Wexford General Hospital after a fire forced an evacuation of the building Alamy Stock Photo
Wexford

Patients are beginning to be returned back to Wexford General Hospital after fire

The Ireland East Hospital Group said the process of bringing patients back “will take several weeks”.

PATIENTS WHO WERE evacuated from Wexford General Hospital following Wednesday’s fire are beginning to be returned back to the hospital.

While nobody was injured in the fire, more than 200 patients had to be evacuated from the building in a major response from emergency services. A small group of 29 patients remained in the hospital for treatment.

Patients were transferred to locations including University Hospital Waterford, St. Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny, St. Vincent’s Hospital, the Mater Hospital and Cork University Hospital.

In a statement this evening, the Ireland East Hospital Group confirmed the process of bringing patients back to WGH has begun. 

The first patients will come from University Hospital Waterford back to WGH. 

“This is the first step in the process which will take several weeks,” the group said. 

Wexford General Hospital is a 280-bed hospital and provides inpatient, outpatient, day care, outreach and emergency services. 

Outpatients and elective appointments at WGH were cancelled yesterday today.

The hospital’s maternity services recommenced this morning at 9am and outpatient appointments are resuming on Monday. Any expectant mothers who have questions about their care in WGH’s maternity unit are advised to ring the labour ward on 053 915 3368.

The Accident and Emergency Department also remains closed in WGH. People who require emergency care can attend their closest alternative A&E.

“We are aware that the Emergency Department in UHW is extremely busy,” it said. 

“However, CareDoc have ensured that additional GPs during out-of-hours are available within the Wexford and Waterford area to prevent travel to Waterford’s Emergency Department from Wexford and for the Waterford Community to avail of alternative services.”

Taoiseach visit

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that it will take “weeks to months” before all services at Wexford General Hospital have fully resumed.

“I had a chance to visit the hospital here to see the damage and unfortunately, it is extensive. It’s going to be weeks, months before the hospital is back up and running fully,” he told reporters outside the hospital today. 

“But that is the objective, and I’ve given everyone here the assurance that the government will do everything we can, everything humanly possible to support the efforts to get this hospital up and running, full service as soon as it can be done.

“But with the best will in the world, that’s likely to be weeks to months at this stage.”

He said that “large parts” of the hospital had been affected by fire or water damage.

“It is going to require significant construction works, including electrical works, before all those beds can be brought back into use.”

There is as of yet no indication when this will be completed, but assessors are still onsite examining the area where the fire is understood to have began.

In the short term, modular builds like a mobile endoscopy unit may be brought in to ensure a fast return to services for the south-east area, with full repairs for the longer term.

left-to-right-clinical-lead-professor-obada-yousif-a-representative-of-the-national-ambulance-service-general-manager-of-wexford-general-hospital-linda-oleary-and-taoiseach-leo-varadkar-outside-t Clinical Lead Professor Obada Yousif, a representative of the National Ambulance Service, general manager of Wexford General Hospital Linda O'Leary and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar outside the hospital Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

The Taoiseach pledged the Government’s full support to ensure the hospital returned to full service as soon as possible.

He said: “One thing that did hit me going into some of the wards is that Mary Celeste feeling where people had left belongings behind: everything from food to personal effects that people had left behind because they had to evacuate so quickly.

“But obviously, efforts are being made now to make sure that everyone gets their belongings and they’re being either sent to people’s homes or to whichever hospital they’ve been transferred to.”

Varadkar also praised the staff at the hospital who “sprung into action” when the fire started.

“Every hospital has an evacuation plan. You never think you’re going to have to use it. And what was used here, it did work really well. Nobody was injured, there was no loss of life. I think we were blessed in that regard,” he added.

With reporting by Press Association

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