Peak of Covid’s impact on hospitals could be four weeks away
Nurses and doctors working in emergency services have called on the government to reintroduce compulsory mask-wearing and ask people to work from home to protect the “fragile” healthcare system.
There are 1,535 people with Covid-19 in hospitals on Thursday, and it is ‘absurd’ to downplay the impact of this on other patients, said a health union briefing for politicians and the media .
The peak of this wave of infections could be three to four weeks away, according to unofficial HSE modeling shared with the Emergency Department Task Force, said Phil Ní Sheaghdha, co-chair of the task force and general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization (INMO). .
Emergency department nurse and INMO president Karen McGowan said patients can collapse in the waiting room where she works because they’ve waited so long to be seen.
“The environment in which we work is no longer safe. As emergency personnel, we feel totally let down by the people making the decisions,” Ms McGowan said.
“It’s horrible, we have a huge elderly population that we’re trying to provide care for.
“They’re getting more and more agitated, they’re progressing, they’re delirious in our emergency departments because it’s a very busy environment, the lights are on 24/7. It’s really awful.”
Fergal Hickey, spokesman for the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine, said: ‘We seem to have forgotten about the idea of flattening the curve. The health system is currently not coping with this situation.
An emergency consultant for 27 years at Sligo University Hospital, he said the situation in March was as dangerous as he had ever seen it.
“I think the decision to resign from Nphet was premature, the decision to remove some of the restrictions was premature,” he said, referring to the end of mask-wearing on February 28.
The two unions wrote to Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan on Thursday, warning of “significant risks” to patients and staff.
“Stronger immediate public health measures are needed – failure to do so and abandoning hospitals to the inevitable will lead to unnecessary higher levels of preventable disease requiring hospitalization and, unfortunately, for some, a fatal outcome,” the letter , seen by thenoted.
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said 12 emergency room nurses had recently met Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and told him the conditions of patients were simply “miserable”.
“This is the worst March we’ve ever recorded. The myth that goes around every March is bad, just isn’t true,” she said.
“We have 11,001 registered patients this month (on carts).”
That compares to 4,126 last March, she said.