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Tuesday 28 November 2023 Dublin: 3°C
Sam Boal/ File photo.
maternity restrictions

Rotunda Master: Higher vaccination uptake among inpatients would allow restrictions to be eased

High vaccination rates among the general population are not being reflected in maternity hospitals.

THE MASTER OF the Rotunda Maternity Hospital says restrictions at the facility could be eased if more patients and their partners were vaccinated.

Professor Fergal Malone said the hospital carries out surveys every week to find out the vaccination status of inpatients.

In the most recent survey, 39% of inpatients in the Rotunda were fully vaccinated. The figure for partners was only slightly higher at 41%.

“To be honest with you, that’s disappointing, but in ways I suppose, not surprising because there is some vaccine hesitancy,” Professor Malone told Morning Ireland on RTÉ.

And of course, what that means is 60% of the patients and/or partners walking around the Rotunda Hospital today are not vaccinated and therefore are vulnerable to Covid.

Professor Malone said the high vaccination rates seen in the general population are not being reflected in maternity hospitals.

He said higher vaccine uptake among expectant mothers and their partners would make it possible to ease restrictions further.

Visiting times

Professor Malone said that, for several months, the Rotunda has been significantly exceeding the HSE guidelines of 30 minutes of visiting time per day, by allowing patients up to six hours of visiting each day, and up to nine hours at weekends. 

However, he added that in certain parts of the hospital, particularly the old main building, which dates back to 1757, there is no ventilation and there isn’t enough space to allow large numbers of people to sit together safely.

Professor Malone used the example of the ultrasound waiting room, which has only 12 seats.

“If I have eight or nine mothers sitting there and suddenly that’s 16 or 18 adults because they all have a partner with them in a small room that is not ventilated and not capable of being ventilated, that is a very serious risk,” he said.

And it’s the same with the emergency room waiting area, there’s only 10 seats there.

“If they’re all filled or most of them are filled by patients needing assessment, and I now double that by having their partner with them during that time, it’s just not safe.”

Professor Malone added that every delivery room in the Rotunda is a single private room, meaning a woman’s partner can stay with them as soon as they are admitted to a room.

“Once a patient is admitted to the delivery room, whether she’s one centimetre dilated, or 10 centimetres dilated, of course, the patient’s partner will be with them for every minute of that journey,” he explained.

Malone added that the speed with which pregnant women can be moved into the single-occupancy rooms depends on how busy the hospital is at the time.

Eight rooms are currently available and this is shortly set to increase to 11.

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