PRESSURE AHEAD Saolta Group CEO Tony Canavan expects high hospital numbers into January throughout the west, midwest and northwest.
THE Head of the Saolta Group of hospitals believes that hospital admissions due to the current Covid surge will peak in early December and will remain at a high level into January. While new-case levels in the current surge do appear to be reaching a plateau, it looks as though Mayo University Hospital (MUH) and other hospitals in the region are in for a difficult December and January.
Tony Canavan, CEO of the Saolta Group (which includes MUH), made the prediction when addressing and updating members of the Regional Health Forum West meeting on the latest Covid-19 surge within the region.
Speaking during the forum’s online meeting yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon, he said: “We have been looking at some modelling within the health service which helps us to predict what might be coming down the track with Covid-19. This modeling process has improved over the course of Covid-19 as we have learned more about the infection.
“Right now it is saying to us that we expect the numbers of patients in hospital and ICUs with Covid-19 will rise as we progress through November and into early December. Thereafter, they will level out at a relatively high level and stay at that level for much of the month of December and indeed into January.”
‘The vaccine does work’
Within the Saolta group, 115 people are currently in hospital with Covid-19. Mr Canavan said all the acute hospitals in the region have Covid-19 patients in their Intensive Care Units (ICUs).
“In total, our number of patients across the whole region – that is the midwest right up to the west and north-west – is 115 patients. Most of those are currently in UHL [Limerick] followed by GUH [Galway], the two largest hospitals in the region.
“In ICU, the patients are spread fairly evenly across the region, with the exception of UHL where there are 13 patients this morning [Tuesday] who are Covid-19 positive,” he said.
While accepting that the current number of cases are high, he said they do not compare to the numbers during the third wave in January. He says this shows the vaccine is working, and he urged people to receive the vaccine and to avail of the booster vaccine.
“The vaccination does work and we can see the evidence in our hospitals today, despite the significant numbers in hospital. This fourth wave has shown that the numbers are a lot lower than the third wave. When you look at our ICUs, the people who are unvaccinated are disproportionately represented in the ICUs when they are Covid-19 positive.
“The simple message we are trying to convey is that the vaccine does work and the booster provides an additional level of cover as well. In fairness, it is working, and the encouragement is to people to go out and get the booster vaccine when it is offered,” he urged.
As of last Friday, Saolta Hospitals are admitting patients to hospitals on an elective basis. Mr Canavan admitted that there is pressure coming on all hospitals within the group.
“The rationale behind this is to ensure we maintain some capacity to respond to the challenge of Covid-19 as it increases over the coming weeks. Only the most important cases are getting in and these tend to be people with cancer or where there is a risk to life or limb.
“It is fair to say that all of our hospitals across the region are extremely busy at the moment. We see in our emergency departments the levels of admissions are exceeding what we would have seen in 2019 by quite a considerable margin.
“We also see that the levels of admission into our hospitals from the emergency department is very high relative to 2019, and unfortunately we are also starting to see an increase again in the numbers of patients awaiting admission on trolleys in our emergency departments. All of which describes a busy pressurised situation in the hospitals across the region,” he said.