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Colette Cowan, CEO UL Hospitals' Group, has warned the volume of Covid-19 patients admitted to hospital will soon exceed the numbers treated during the first wave.

Plan calls for new ‘Urgent Care Centre’ to ease overcrowding at regional hospital

THE development of a new ‘Urgent Care Centre’ at University Hospital Limerick has been recommended in a new draft plan by a Mid-West steering group looking at ways to alleviate overcrowding at the hospital.
The news is confirmed in response to a parliamentary question from Clare TD Joe Carey.
Deputy Carey directly raised the issue with the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly. The local Fine Gael TD asked the minister if he was aware of the proposal to develop the Urgent Care Centre at University Hospital Limerick and if the necessary resources would be provided “to advance the plan and deal with chronic overcrowding at the hospital”.
In reply, Minister Donnelly forwarded a response from UL Hospitals Group chief executive Colette Cowan. Ms Cowan confirmed to Deputy Carey, “A Mid-West Integrated Care Steering Group comprising staff from HSE MidWest Community Healthcare, UL Hospitals Group, National Ambulance Service and the Department of Public Health MidWest has developed a draft plan for an integrated model of care for the  MidWest  region in line with the broader aims of the Slaintecare programme.”
The response confirmed, “The development of an urgent care centre is one of the recommendations arising from the work of this Steering Group which is under consideration by UL Hospitals Group, HSE MidWest Community Healthcare, the Department of Public Health MidWest and the National Ambulance Service.”
Deputy Carey welcomed the recommendation to develop an Urgent Care Centre at UHL, saying it would go a long way to alleviate overcrowding at our regional hospital.
The Clarecastle-based TD said, “Building an Urgent Care Centre on the grounds of the hospital is a very practical way of reducing pressure on our overcrowded A&E department. They can deal with a large number of minor accident and emergency cases at UHL, where walk-ins account for over 50% of cases. There is no vetting and these cases can clog up the entire system.”
“I strongly urge the minister and the health authorities to act on the recommendation of the Mid-West Steering Group and provide the necessary funding to build the Urgent Care Centre as soon as possible.”
In her response to Deputy Carey, the UL Hospitals Group chief also said the draft plan will also address “short to medium term measures around hospital avoidance, improved inpatient discharges, supported outreach services to GPs and accelerated changes to support chronic disease management with a focus on older persons”.
She added “The Steering Group is simultaneously planning for the longer-term strategic vision for the Mid-West with considerable emphasis being placed on keeping people in their  own  home wherever possible as long as it is safe to do so, intermediate care access facilitated by integrated care pathways. All of the above is being considered in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and the lessons from same.”

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