UP to 25 patients will be brought to a new Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) in the University of Limerick (UL) Sports Arena in its first week of operation thanks to a unique collaboration between UL and the UL Hospitals’ Group.
Constructed at a cost of €1 million, all the equipment for the new field hospital in UL was provided by the HSE and all of its contains including the floor are reusable elsewhere.
The ICF is a fully staffed and fully equipped Model One hospital facility that will provide rehabilation care for non-Covid patients who are discharged from acute public hospitals in the region.
The 68-bed facility, with capacity to scale up to 84 beds, is fitted out with a typical ward support accommodation such as clean and dirty utilities, pharmacy, pantry, staff change, clinical treatment areas, two recreation areas, and four enclosed rooms.
It is expected that up to 50 patients will be treated at peak demand with capacity for more if needed.
No visitors will be allowed in line with current public health guidelines.
It will operate with a standard medical team overseen by a consultant, registrar and senior house officer until at least September with an option to extend until November.
A lot of Third Year nursing students have taken on posts as healthcare assistants.
Professor Paul Burke, chief academic officer at UL Hospitals’ Group said ICF ensures contingency capacity is in place to support the group or to cope with a second surge of Covid-19.
“The rehabilitation model is very resourced in the ICF because we have the support of UL students. We have great potential to show what can be achieved with active rehabilitation can do. If that works well, it will put a strong demand on Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals to say we need to increase our rehab processes to increase the transfer and discharge of patients coming to and from the hospitals more quickly,” he said.
Depending on how busy UHL is and the transmission of the virus, it is planned to wind down this facility by November.
UL President Dr Des Fitzgerald, who first mooted the idea of a field hospital on the UL campus, said public and private organisations came together to support University Hospital Limerick and care facilities across this region.
“It is this partnership approach that has also led to the establishment of the Mid-West Institute for Infectious Diseases at UL, which will serve our community in the short and long term against this and future pandemics.”
“Unfortunately we are not going to be in a position to use our Arena facility in the way in which we normally would during Semester 1 of our next academic year. Repurposing the Arena as a care facility allows UL to remain at the centre of our region’s response to this pandemic.”
“The ICF will provide a unique opportunity for training of UL healthcare students and has significant potential for research for the university. It is likely that there will be patients who have recovered from Covid-19 and this would be the ideal situation to observe their continued recovery from a disease with largely unknown long-term consequences,” he said.
Group chief executive officer, Professor Colette Cowan outlined the ICF will be a vital strategic element in the group’s efforts to manage patient flow at a time when there is such significant demand for its services.