A NEW Clinical Assessment Unit is expected be set up in Shannon Health Centre later this week for Clare patients who are confirmed as Covid-19 positive.
As part of the HSE system wide response to Covid 19, this unit will provided a face-to-face clinical assessment for patients following a GP referral.
The aim of the units is to divert mildly symptomatic patients who require medical assessment away from the acute hospital system by providing a facility in the community in which the patient can be seen, and clinically assessed by a team of nurses, doctors and physiotherapists.
The unit will provide service Monday to Sunday by appointment only from 07.30 to 20.30.
The numbers of people waiting for a Covid-19 test in the Mid-West has been slashed from 8,000 to 500 in a week including 77 now in Clare following the introduction of new criteria.
Clare family doctors have been advised patients will only qualify for a swab if they have a measured fever, cough or shortness of breath, are in at risk group with conditions like chronic lung disease or cystic fibrosis, a health care worker or if they have been in contact with a Covid-19 case.
The testing service is being provided on an appointment-only basis and only those who are referred by their GP will be seen.
Where a test is requested, the person should be self-isolating at home until they are called for their test.
It is advised that any person who is symptomatic or waiting for an appointment for a test, or waiting for a test result, they should assume they are positive and ensure they take all the necessary precautions regarding care and self isolation.
HSE Mid West Community Healthcare has identified further sites for testing in Clare and these will be opened when required.
Mark Quinn, SIPTU said a major issues has emerged for front line health care staff with underlying respiratory illnesses working in HSE run facilities and in the nursing home sector.
He claimed that these staff are being denied the opportunity to wear protective standard surgical face masks even if they purchase it themselves, they have been told they can’t wear it.
“This is an unnecessary position to be taken by the Mid-West HSE, which risks the safety of our members. There are other areas in run by the HSE where staff are allowed to wear face masks if they have an underlying serious condition.
“It beggars belief. The HSE are telling people to stay at home and self-isolate and yet front line workers are expected to go into work without proper protective measures for them. Where is the justice in that?
“I believe it is not unreasonable for these staff to ask to wear face masks as a minimum protective measure while working in the health service.
“I see people walking up and down the street wearing these masks,” he said.
He said SIPTU are now advising any staff member with respiratory illnesses to contact an occupational health doctor to establish whether they should be at work or whether they required a face mask.
A HSE spokesperson stated the measures available to protect staff from infection are the same options as for others – handwashing, social distancing, not putting hands towards face.
HSE Personal Protective Equipment guidance does not recommend the use of surgical facemasks in situations other than close contact generally at least one metre of a patient suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.