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UL Hospitals' Group CEO, Colette Cowan, who is confident UHL will respond quickly to a second surge of Covid-19.

UHL can cope with second Covid-19 surge

UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick (UHL) will be able to cope with a second wave of Covid-19, according to a senior clinician.

Professor Paul Burke, chief academic officer at UL Hospitals’ Group believes Ireland may experience new clusters of the virus like other countries.

Speaking at a recent media briefing in the University of Limerick, Professor predicted there will be a “relative surge” of coronavirus.

“I think there will be a relative surge. There may be clusters like Seoul in South Korea. We do have a good contact tracing system in place. If we identify things quickly we will be able to curb it.

“I think we will have a consistent number of Covid-19 patients in our hospitals on an ongoing basis. The threat will continue to remain.

“I would be confident that UHL will cope with another surge. It has been remarkable over the last three months. The first notifiable case was in the Mid-West. We instituted our close down a week or two before most other hospitals.

“The virus has been really well controlled within our hospital system. We ramped up our ICU and we never had to use its full capacity.

“Professor Colette Cowan had a very strong leadership team in place over the last three months, which met every morning. If the group have any sense we are losing grip on the situation, we will have a very immediate response,” he said.

Group chief executive officer, Colette Cowan outlined Area Crisis Management Teams have devised Intermediate Care Plans in the event of a resurgence of COVID-19.

This is especially relevant in the Mid-West where baseline bed capacity is lower and there is limited private hospital capacity.

Professor Cowan predicted the group will have a busy winter.

“If people have Covid-19 symptoms they should self-isolate, stay at home and ring their GP.

“This virus is not going away, there will be a two-year management of this virus. We have patients who died and we also have ones who survived. To see a patient coming out of intensive care after surviving is a great day.

“They don’t remember anything so we have to tell them what they have been through. Covid-19 is a dangerous virus, it is not nice, it affects many people,” she explained.

She advised people to wash their hands and not to touch their eyes, nose or mouth as this is how it enters the body and stressed the need to keep a two metre social distance from others.

Asked if she felt the government was easing restrictions too quickly, she noted the government are being advised by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and needed to get the economy going again.

She stated mental health can become an issue for people who spend too much time in their own homes and confirmed the group had seen an increase in patients presenting with mental health issues.

“It is important for people to circulate once they follow the rules. If they don’t follow the rules, the government will shut things down,” she warned.

She said the group will try and develop measures with medical staff in the Mid-West primary, continuing and community care to develop community care so that all sick patients aren’t coming into the ED.

She confirmed the group has hired and trained a lot of new critical care staff and also increased the bed capacity in this area.

“If a surge comes we will be ready for it. We can stand up or stand down virtually overnight,” she added.

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