The University of Limerick has today announced the opening of an Intermediate Care Facility on campus, which will act as a contingency facility in an effort to alleviate pressure within the UL Hospitals Group and assist with the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19.
The ICF is a Model One hospital facility which will provide a space for non-Covid patients or those who have recovered from the virus and subsequently require further care or rehabilitation. The facility contains 68 beds with the possibility to expand to 84 and holds a further 16 beds for patients with more serious health requirements. The ICF is systematically laid out in typical ward accommodation, with partitions separating the beds. The facility is due to remain in place until September which could possibly be extended to November in the face of a second wave.
On the importance of the facility, UL President Des Fitzgerald commented, “Repurposing the Arena, which would otherwise remain closed, as a care facility allows us to remain at the centre of our region’s response to this pandemic, to serve our community and to be ready for the next wave of the pandemic, should that happen. This facility will mean that the people of our region can rest assured that contingency capacity is now in place to support UL Hospitals Group, in case of general capacity issues or indeed in the case of a second surge of COVID-19.”
The UL Arena sports facility was repurposed within a strict four-week time-frame as a result of incredible work by UL’s Building and Estates Department in partnership with the HSE Estates Department locally and nationally, contractors and suppliers, Limerick City and County Council, and Defence Forces personnel.
The care team within the ICF is comprised of all grades, with UL nursing and medical students providing support as Health Care Assistants (HCAs) as well as a collection of UL allied health professional staff and students. An experienced network of doctors and nurses will work with the students in an effort to assist in the rehabilitation and discharge of as many patients as possible, tempering the patient flow and overcrowding challenges that are expected to arise in the coming months.
Several facilities in UL’s Arena will now be closed off to students in the first semester of the 2020/21 academic year as a result.
Professor Paul Burke, Chief Academic Officer at UL Hospitals Group and Vice Dean of Health Sciences at UL, who was executive lead on the ICF project, said: “This facility will mean that the people of our region can rest assured that contingency capacity is now in place to support UL Hospitals Group, either in the case of the general capacity issues or indeed in the case of a second surge of COVID-19”.