Concern about the availability of personal protective equipment for nursing homes in Clare has been expressed by Dr Michael Harty.
Dr Harty said some nursing homes felt abandoned as they had instituted strict visitor restrictions on March 6 even before the lockdown.
He understands most of the nursing homes in Clare are free from Covid-19 following the provision of very effective protection measures to ensure residents are safe.
“One nursing home told me they spend €10,000 purchasing their own PPE because they weren’t able to get a sufficient supply from the HSE.
He recalled there was an expectation there would be a huge surge in the number of people requiring hospital treatment with a substantial number requiring admission to intensive care who may need ventilation.
“The emphasis was placed on that aspect of care from the beginning. The social distancing and lockdown measures that have been introduced has made a huge difference to the numbers of people requiring hospitalisation and intensive care way below what was expected.
“The vulnerability of elderly people in nursing homes wasn’t to the fore of government thinking initially. The government was ramping up capacity for hospital admission, intensive care expansion from 250 to 750 beds, putting in place isolation facilities in hotels like CityWest with capacity for more than 1,000 people.
“They were caught unawares the vulnerability of people in nursing homes was going to be a huge problem. Everyone was looking at hospital care while everything that was happening in nursing homes was happening silently and quietly.
Even though Nursing Homes Ireland was highlighting the issue in nursing homes, he claimed the government didn’t act until it was too late for 30% of homes who has Covid-19 patients.
He alleged the government didn’t anticipate what would happen in nursing homes even though there was early warning signs of serious issues.
He expects the National Public Health Emergency team are now beginning to increase support for nursing homes.
Having visited a number of nursing homes in Kilrush, he discovered they hadn’t received any substantial government support.