A visiting ban has been implemented for all six of UL Hospital Group’s sites including Ennis General Hospital and University Hospital Limerick.
In the interest of patient safety, the visiting ban has been introduced at University Hospital Limerick, University Maternity Hospital Limerick, St John’s Hospital, Nenagh Hospital, Ennis Hospital and Croom Orthopaedic Hospital as a precautionary measure.
Exceptions to the ban include parents visiting children in hospital, partners of women attending the maternity hospital, people visiting patients at end of life, people assisting confused patients such as those with dementia and individuals visiting those in critical care. This is still limited to one person per patient.
A spokesperson told The Clare Echo, “We regret any distress or inconvenience these extraordinary measures will cause to patients and their loved ones. These measures are being taken in order to minimise any spread of infection within our hospital sites. These measures are in place until further notice and are being reviewed on a daily basis.
Injury units in Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s have the visitor ban in place as does the emergency department at UHL.
“We are appealing to members of the public to co-operate with these necessary restrictions. We are also urging the public to keep the Emergency Department for emergencies only; a place where priority is given to the seriously injured and ill and those whose lives may be at risk. Anyone else should first consider all the care options available to them in them in their own communities, their family doctors, out-of-hours GP services, or ask their local pharmacies for advice,” the spokesperson added.
Local Injury Units (LIUs) at Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals (8am-8pm daily), and St John’s Hospital (8am-6pm, Monday to Friday) are an option for treatment of broken bones, dislocations, sprains, strains, wounds, scalds and minor burns, without the lengthy wait that can be expected in the ED during busy periods.
Earlier on Friday it was confirmed that UL Hospitals Group and HSE MidWest Community Healthcare are working closely to trace the contacts of the four confirmed Clare cases of COVID-19 who are receiving treatment at UHL.
Such contacts include patients who attended Zone A (minors) of the Emergency Department in UHL between the hours of 10am and 2pm on Wednesday last, February 26th and they are being contacted directly. Patients in any other area of the Emergency Department or the wider hospital are not considered to be contacts. Patients who attended a small number of other health services are also being contacted by public health in line with procedure.
UHL’s A&E was put off call for a three-hour period on Wednesday night to facilitate a precautionary deep clean of affected areas. Patients arriving by ambulance were diverted to Galway University Hospitals during this interval in line with established national protocols. Staff who were in close contact with one of the confirmed cases have been advised not to report for duty and to follow the guidance of public health and occupational health colleagues.
“We remain in the containment phase in relation to COVID -19 and as long as this remains the case, it is important that members of the public follow the most up-to-date advice from the HSE,” a UL Hospitals Group spokesperson added.
A new helpline 1890 300046 has been launched today (Friday) to provide information and support to the public in Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary who are considered a casual contact or close contact of confirmed cases in the Mid West. The information and advisory team has been established as a local point of contact. The National HSE Live helpline number is 1850 24 1850. All general queries should be directed to the national helpline number.
Personnel who have been diagnosed with coronavirus infection have been interviewed in depth by the Department of Public Health and their contacts who are at risk of infection have been identified. During the contact tracing process people who have been identified as a contact of the case are categorised as either having “close” contact or “casual contact”. These definitions are based on international best practice and reflect how long the person was in contact with the case and the closeness of physical contact. “We are in the process of communicating with these close and casual contacts. People who live in the communities around these cases, who have not been identified as part of this process, are at the same risk of coronavirus infection as other people living in Ireland”.