STRETCHED TO THE LIMIT 15 patients were waiting for a bed at Mayo University Hospital yesterday morning, as management at the hospital try to deal with another Covid-19 outbreak.
‘Conditions in the hospital are atrocious’ – Kilcoyne
MAYO University Hospital has the largest number of Covid-19 cases of any hospital in the country. A lack of resources has been cited as a factor in the outbreak at the facility.
MUH has 15 confirmed Covid-19 cases, according to the latest report by the HSE, released on Sunday at 8pm. This figure is the highest in a hospital setting in the country – five cases ahead of both Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown and Letterkenny University Hospital, which have the next highest number at ten each.
Although there were no Covid patients in the Intensive Care Unit of MUH, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation’s trolly watch reported that there are no available general beds at the hospital, with 15 patients waiting for a bed on Monday morning.
Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne, who is a member of the HSE Regional Health Forum West, believes that the shortage or staff and resources at the hospital is one of the reasons for the current outbreak.
“The hospital is stretched to the limit. Last Friday night there were only two nurses in A&E, and some patients were transferred to Galway because they were short staffed in MUH. The whole hospital is short staffed, and the whole hospital is short of accommodation. Here you are in the middle of summer with people on trollies and that is leading to outbreaks. The conditions in the hospital are atrocious.
“It is disgraceful the way people are being treated due to the lack of resources,” he said.
Cllr Kilcoyne, along with other members of the regional health forum and the Mayo Oireachtas members, is due to meet with HSE management later today (Tuesday). He plans to ask how the current outbreak was allowed to happen in the hospital.
Shocking patient testimony
One patient who has seen the current Covid-19 outbreak at first hand is Killala man Norman Fair. A patient at the hospital, he has been moved to a single-bed ward where he is currently isolating after being deemed a close contact with a Covid case at the hospital during the week.
The 50-year-old double-transplant patient told The Mayo News that nurses and doctors are so busy they are running between patients.
“I did not realise how busy the rehabilitation ward actually is … They are flat out up here.
“The staff are literally running from end to end. The Sister was running up and down the ward treating people, she could not stop to even talk to me. They are so short staffed it is madness. They don’t walk up the corridor, and I mean this, they run up the corridor. It is absolutely crazy that in 2021 this is what Castlebar hospital has come to.”
Norman suffers from primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a chronic liver disease, and as a result has undergone two liver transplants, the first in 2006 and the second in 2019. He was admitted to the hospital last Monday morning with an infection.
He spent 16 hours on a trolley in A&E before he was finally seen after midnight. At 2am he was given a bed in a corridor outside a four-bed ward. At the time he did not feel a trolley was an appropriate place for a transplant patient with an infection to be placed.
One of the patients on the four-bed ward subsequently tested positive for Covid-19. Mr Fair was later placed in that same ward with the three close contacts, occupying the bed that the Covid patient had been in.
Following a complaint, he was eventually given a single room. Speaking to The Mayo News on Monday afternoon, he said that while he has so far he tested negative for Covid-19, he is angry that he has been placed in this position given his serious underlying condition.
“I am annoyed because I feel I was put at more risk than is necessary. I was annoyed before the Covid outbreak, and I was more annoyed when the outbreak happened, because I was put at unnecessary risk.
“I did fear I was going to get it [Covid] because my bed was outside the door of the ward and the guy who got Covid was using the same toilet I was using. I have bowel problems and I frequently use the toilet, and that is why my fear was so high. As much as I was looking after myself by cleaning my hands, Covid can remain on surfaces, and the risk element was quite high.
“After the guy left, I was put in a ward with three other close contacts, one of whom was not vaccinated. I was assured the ward was cleaned [but] who on earth would make a decision like that with a double transplant patient who was already in with an infection? I am not going to lie I was at a very low ebb.”
Although he has had this two vaccines, Norman is still at a high risk, as a transplant patients already have a compromised immune system. While he is currently in a single-bed ward, Mr Fair is not 100 percent confident he will remain Covid free because of the Delta variant’s higher transmission rate.
He said told The Mayo News that he has lost faith in the hospital management and believes that the bed management practices need to change or else someone will be in the same position as him.
“If I get Covid I get it, but it is not going to go away anytime soon, and I would hate for older patients to be in the same position just because of carelessness. Some of the practices in the hospital just need to change, and unless someone speaks out nothing will be done,” he warned.
In a statement, the management of MUH stated that in accordance with the Health Protection Surveillance Centre guidelines, an Outbreak Control Team has been convened at Mayo Hospital and is working with Public Health and Occupational Health to manage the response to the Covid-19 outbreak at the hospital.