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Sat, Sep
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Mayo braces for the surge


ANSWERING THE CALL Theatre Nurses on duty at Mayo University Hospital last week, from left: John Dempsey, Paul Gilligan, Assumpta Allsopp and Elaine Finnegan.

• Three patients have died in Mayo hospital

• Mayo tests delayed by MUH lab staffing shortfall

Edwin McGreal

Testing for Covid-19 in Mayo ‘has to be ramped up now’ as the county braces itself for increasing numbers of people testing positive for the virus.
That’s according to Cllr Michael Kilcoyne, a member of the west’s HSE Regional Health Forum, who has stressed the need more testing in light of a number of concerns.
He said he is aware of two deaths from the virus at Mayo University Hospital (MUH). An informed source told The Mayo News this fatality figure at the hospital is, in fact, at least three.Cllr Kilcoyne said many people who have been tested in the county are ‘waiting seven to 14 days for test results’ – a situation that he described as ‘crazy’.
“Testing has to be ramped up now, and people should not be waiting up to two weeks for test results,” he told The Mayo News.
He said tests taken in Mayo were being sent to Dublin for analysis despite the presence of the required equipment in MUH.
“I understand there is a machine in the hospital capable of analysing the tests and giving results, but there is no one at the hospital trained to use it. Tests taken in MUH are being sent to Dublin for results,” he said.
“I am at a loss to know why people in Mayo are waiting seven to 14 days for test results. They are doing it directly in hospitals in Dublin. In Germany and the US people only have to wait hours for results. That shows how behind the curve our system is,” he said.
Responding, the Communications Department of the north west area Saolta Hospital Group said: “The hospital is working towards getting laboratory testing up and running on site; this will be dependent on the availability of the necessary equipment and chemical reagent for laboratories which is a significant global challenge.” Cllr Kilcoyne, who also works as an undertaker, also revealed that an extension to the hospital mortuary at MUH is being readied this week, and that it is one of several such locations in the country where this is happening.
Cllr Kilcoyne said Ireland was suffering right now because of poor investment in its health service over a number of years. “The EU report that Ireland has the lowest ICU bed rate per head of population confirms what I and others have been saying for years about our health system being run down and down,” he said.
Figures published on Sunday evening, accurate as of Friday night last, said there were 78 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Mayo. That’s an increase from 26 the previous Friday.
Cllr Kilcoyne said such figures should be treated with a certain caution.
“The fact that people are waiting seven to 14 days for results means I don’t think the figures we are seeing right now are a very reliable indicator of the prevalence of the virus. I think we will have to wait over a week for today’s real figure,” he said.
Speaking to The Mayo News last week, Tony Canavan, CEO of the northwest’s Saolta Hospital Group, which includes Mayo University Hospital, said the group anticipates an increase in the coming weeks.
“One thing we can say in terms of our planning is we are expecting the numbers of people testing positive for Covid-19 in Mayo to rise quite considerably over the next two-week period. Therefore, we are expecting the number of people going into the hospital with Covid-19 to rise quite considerably,” he said.