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Numbers increasing at University Hospital Limerick

ATTENDANCES at the Emergency Department at UHL increased in the week ending January 6 and are expected to rise further in the coming weeks.

High volumes of elderly patients with medical conditions, in particular respiratory conditions, have been presenting in recent days and the number of flu cases has also begun to rise.

There were 1,301 attendances to the ED at UHL between December 24 and December 30 and this rose to 1,343 attendances in the seven-day period December 31 to January 6.

The Christmas/New Year period has also proven busy for the Injury Units Ennis, St John’s and Nenagh hospitals. Between December 24 and January 1 there were a total of 790 attendances to the three units combined, an aggregate increase of 6.5%. The numbers attending at Ennis were 245 (-18); at Nenagh 251 (+21) and at St John’s 294 (+45).

“The hospital is currently operating at capacity and all available surge capacity is in use. Initiatives introduced under the winter plan  – such as expanding our Acute Medical Assessment Unit and increasing access to diagnostics in the evenings – have assisted in terms of patient flow. Additional lists  for emergency surgery have proven to be of great benefit as there was a significant number of trauma presentations over the Christmas/New Year period,” Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group, said.

“We are currently seeing a high number of frail elderly patients with complex medical needs who require admission. Respiratory conditions and flu are on the increase and people attending the Emergency Department can regrettably expect long waits in many instances as the sickest patients are prioritised. It is encouraging to see the overall increase in attendances to our Injury Units this year as they are the best option for appropriate cases. However, people who are seriously injured or ill should continue to come to the Emergency Department, where they will receive the appropriate care,” Ms Cowan added. Ms Cowan also encouraged members of the public to get the flu vaccination from their GP or pharmacist.

“Over the last month, there have been over 30 patients with influenza admitted across UL Hospitals Group, with a number of patients seriously unwell. The vaccine this year is a good match for the circulating strains, including H1N1, and we are encouraging members of the public to protect themselves and their loved ones by getting the vaccine. Anyone who is concerned about flu-like symptoms should contact their GP or out-of-hours service in the first instance and anyone who does present to hospital with flu-like symptoms should immediately notify our staff so that appropriate precautions can be taken,” Ms Cowan said.

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