A local lobby group has issued a public appeal for donations of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for nursing homes.
Mid-West Hospital Campaign spokesperson Hilary Tonge said nursing homes in the county are struggling to obtain sufficient supplies of PPE.
Members of the campaign came together to see the could assist in accessing equipment.
“We spoke to groups in other areas who are helping us to source materials and designs to start making PPE,” she said.
The group plans to compile a comprehensive list and approach companies and organisations who may be able to supply equipment and use their skills to make products.
Campaign member, Marie McMahon from Ennistymon said it has become apparent that hand sanitiser and disposable gowns are in very short supply.
Flor McCarthy of Athlunkard Nursing Home confirmed that testing of staff and patients has taken place in the Westbury care facility on Monday.
Director of nursing in Ennis Road Care Facility Meelick, Arthur Stritch said he was in contact with the HSE and the Department of Health and the local Covid-19 support person who stated testing would start soon and noted patients would also be tested individually if the need arose.
A spokesperson for St Dominic Savio Nursing Home said they hadn’t any Covid-19 case and had received a sufficient amount of personal protective equipment and has access to the right range of equipment.
However, if St Dominic Savio had a Covid-19 case, he felt they would have found it difficulty to get PPE because of the nationwide shortage.
Speaking on Tuesday afternoon, he expected to receive confirmation later that evening about when testing would take place in their facility.
At St Theresa’s Nursing Home in Kilrush, Director of Nursing Yvonne Moroney said the promised large-scale of testing by the National Ambulance Service (NAS) had yet to begin.
“We haven’t heard yet, when that might start, but essentially a test is just a snap-shot in time, it doesn’t mean that risks don’t continue on an ongoing basis,” she said. Referring to the other support measures from Department of Health and HSE, Ms Moroney said provision was reasonably good.
“We feel, in general, that we have been able to access support and advice, especially in terms of training,” she noted. “I we need advice, we’re not left waiting and I would say that things like the HIQA hub are effective.” She also confirmed receiving further supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) privately and through the HSE.
Meanwhile, in Gort, Donal Walsh, General Manager of Rosemount Nursing Home, confirmed that to-date, he had no contact from the HSE as to when testing of staff and residents there might begin. “We have had no indication as yet,” he said.
HSE Mid West Community Healthcare are currently formulating a plan to support the National Ambulance Service as a result of a change in policy for mass swabbing.
In a statement issued to the Clare Champion, the HSE stated it has created a network of expert support teams across counties Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary to provide assistance to residential facilities for older people during the Covid-19 crisis.
These support teams are made up of staff from community healthcare services and the acute hospitals, with support from Public Health specialists and Infection Control professionals and the National Ambulance Service.
The HSE stated nursing home residents are amongst the most vulnerable members of society and this move by HSE Mid West Community Healthcare recognises the challenges which private nursing homes are facing at the moment.
The teams are led by experienced nurse managers from HSE Mid West Community Healthcare and are made up of senior doctors and nurses from acute hospitals and the community service, including Consultant Geriatricians.
The HSE stated it is, and has been since early March, been working closely with a wide range of residential care services, including private nursing homes, in relation to the control of outbreaks of COVID-19 in such centres.
The support offered so far has included expert advice, support for management, public health guidance, occupational health advice, supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), providing staff and assistance in sourcing staff where needed.
All nursing homes and residential care facilities have direct contact details for HSE Community Support Teams in their area and these teams are available seven days a week.
The HSE will continue to work with all providers to support them in their obligations of providing residential care services to their residents and to work with them through the critical stages of outbreaks in their centres as is required.
Fiona McGarry and Dan Danaher