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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Shutterstock File image of a hospital bed.

Limerick hospital defers most elective activity due to Covid and 'surge' in ED presentations

A record 100 patients were on trolleys in corridors today in the hospital’s Emergency Department and on general wards.

THE COUNTRY’S MOST overcrowded hospital, University Hospital Limerick, tonight announced a deferral of almost all elective activity as it attempted to manage “a sustained surge in emergency presentations and a significant increase in Covid-19 activity”.

A record 100 patients were on trolleys in corridors today in the hospital’s Emergency Department and on general wards, according to a patient headcount published by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

According to the HSE there were no general beds available at the Limerick hospital, a situation replicated in 14 other hospitals today.

There were two beds available in UHL’s Intensive Care Unit where six Covid-19 patients were being treated.

  • Our colleagues at Noteworthy want to investigate why overcrowding in University Hospital Limerick is still so acute. Support this project here.

A spokesman for UHL said the hospital had “moved to its highest level of escalation, meaning emergency and time-critical care for the sickest patients is being prioritised”.

Outpatient appointments, elective surgery and diagnostic investigations, have been “deferred until further notice”, and “affected patients will be contacted as soon as possible to reschedule their appointments and procedures,” he said.

A visiting ban remains in place at UHL which was treating 89 Covid positive patients, however visits of one person per patient were being facilitated for parents visiting children, for people assisting confused patients and for people visiting on compassionate grounds such as for patients who are critically unwell or at end of life.

Other hospital services in the region remained “largely unaffected” and scheduled care was operating as normal at Ennis Hospital, Nenagh Hospital, University Maternity Hospital Limerick, Croom Orthopaedic Hospital, and St John’s Hospital.

While the region’s only 24-hour Emergency Department, based out of UHL, remained open for emergency cases and emergency and trauma surgery, the Limerick hospital urged people “to first consider the care options that are available in their own communities, including family doctors, out-of-hours GP services, local pharmacies and local injury clinics”.

A limited number of scheduled care appointments were still going ahead including cancer Services, dialysis, cardiology, nurse-led outpatient clinic, dermatology outpatients, OPAT (outpatient therapy) and paediatric outpatient clinics.

Public health officials today reported 7,729 new PCR-confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland.

In addition, 14,060 more people registered a positive antigen test through the HSE portal.

As of 8am today, 1,395 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, of whom 55 are in ICU.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said today that a new group to replace NPHET is “imminent” 

The Tánaiste said that there would be repeated waves and spikes in infections and said the Government does not want to re-impose restrictions.

“We’re going to have more waves of this over the next couple of months and next couple of years. And we don’t want to be turning on and off restrictions. We do need to live with this virus,” Varadkar said today.

Additional reporting by Orla Dwyer. 

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