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Concern as MUH Covid cases soar

News

‘MAJOR CONCERNS’ MUH management is coming under fire as cases in the hospital rise. Pic: Ciara Moynihan


Hospital has third-highest numbers in country


Edwin McGreal

With 53 confirmed cases of Covid-19 among patients in Mayo University Hospital as of Sunday evening, a local councillor has heavily criticised the hospital’s management of the virus.
Meanwhile, the husband of a nurse who contracted the virus whilst working there has expressed frustration with hospital management (see ‘Our Christmas was turned upside down’).
The Castlebar hospital has the third-highest number of cases of any hospital in the country, after Beaumont Hospital in Dublin and Cork University Hospital. In previous days it was second only to Beaumont.
“I’m receiving a lot of complaints from people using the hospital and from staff working there,” Castlebar-based Cllr Michael Kilcoyne (Independent) told The Mayo News.
Cllr Kilcoyne, a member of the HSE’s Regional Forum (West), said staff members had told him of staff working across different wards who ought to be confined to just one ward. He also raised concerns about staff members who were deemed close contacts being told they could return to work before they received a second test result.
The Mayo News understands that some staff did return to work, only to later discover their second test result was positive.
“This goes against national advice that close contacts should self-isolate,” Cllr Kilcoyne said.
“A lot of people are coming into the hospital for treatment and do not have the virus on admission and subsequently pick it up while in there. There are major concerns about the management of the virus there.
“The reality of this is that some people will lose their lives who don’t need to. This is very serious,” he added.

‘People are afraid’
Cllr Kilcoyne also questioned staffing levels at the hospital.
“People don’t want to go near MUH at all. People are afraid. We’ve had ample time since the first lockdown to address issues around staffing levels and facilities at the hospital to prepare for a wave like this, but that doesn’t appear to have happened,” he said.
“I want to express my sheer amazement that the Department of Health have not intervened in Mayo University Hospital.
“I’m disappointed the four TDs who have been elected to represent the people of Mayo have been so quiet about this. Per head of population our numbers should be much lower. However, any attempts I’ve made to get answers have been unsuccessful,” he said.

Saolta responds
The Mayo News put several questions regarding the management of staff and Covid at MUH to the Saolta (North West) Hospital Group, which has responsibility for MUH along with other hospitals in the northwest. The group’s response, set out below, was received after our print edition was published.
In a statement released to The Mayo News, a spokesperson for Saolta said that all employees should restrict their movements and stay at home if identified as a close contact.
“Healthcare workers who develop respiratory symptoms or who are identified as close contacts of a confirmed case must self-isolate (if they have symptoms) or restrict their movements/stay at home, (if close contacts) and stay off work. Even if their Covid-19 test result is negative, they must continue to restrict their movements for 14 days. No close contacts should attend for work. No derogations have been given for staff who are close contacts to remain at work,” they stated.
In response to other questions, Saolta said, as per a statement on December 29 last, Mayo University Hospital ‘is currently managing outbreaks of Covid-19 (an outbreak is defined as two or more cases), as is the situation in many other hospitals around the country. There has been no further outbreaks from this date. The outbreak is being managed in line with national guidance and has input from relevant senior clinical staff and also public health and occupational health’.
Saolta said that as of 12 noon on Monday, there were ‘49 cases of Covid-19 in the hospital; four patients were due to be discharged and additional patients are expected to be admitted due to the significant increase in incidence of the virus in the community’.
They added that there are currently 47 cases of staff with Covid-19 at the hospital, adding this was ‘out of more than 1,300 staff’.