Visiting has been banned at University Hospital Limerick until further notice as the hospital continues to manage high volumes of patients with influenza on the day recorded as the worst ever for overcrowding in Irish hospitals.
Strict visitor restrictions have been imposed with immediate effect to stop the flu being carried into the hospital. “We apologise for any inconvenience or anxiety the restrictions may cause patients and their loved ones. However, these measures are being taken in the interests of patient safety and we appeal to the public for their co-operation at this time,” a spokesperson for management told The Clare Echo.
Exceptions to the visiting ban include those travelling to see patients that are end-of-life, critically ill and confused patients (dementia). Parents visiting paediatric patients are also exempt. The ban includes the Emergency Department at UHL and with the exception of patients in the above categories. Members of the public are reminded not to bring children on visits anywhere in the hospital.
Infection prevention and control measures are in place. A high volume of patients with flu and flu-like symptoms has forced staff to cohort individuals in this bracket where no isolation facilities are available. Influenza A is the predominant strain reported at UHL. A small number of patients have become seriously ill, including some who have required treatment in the intensive care unit.
760 patients are without a bed across the country according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO). 92 of these are at UHL.
“This peak in flu activity coincides with what is traditionally a busy New Year period in our hospitals. UHL has been experiencing a high number of patients attending the ED in recent days. We have admitted a lot of seriously ill patients, many of who remain in the ED awaiting a bed,” a spokesperson outlined.
He added, “People with flu like symptoms are advised to contact their GP by phone in the first instance and avoid presenting at the Emergency Department at UHL. We are asking people to think about all their care and treatment options and keep ED services for the patients who need them most. For example, many patients with limb injuries can go to an Injury Unit in Ennis, Nenagh or St John’s Hospital. Injury Units are open in Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Sunday and 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday at St. John’s Hospital”.