A HOSPITAL ward at Cork University Hospital (CUH) which had been dedicated to providing care for people with Covid-19 has been disbanded.
Dr Corinna Sadlier, who is a consultant in infectious diseases at the hospital, said that a decision was taken to stand down the ward as the number of people with Covid-19 being treated at the hospital had dropped significantly.
When the first cases of the virus were confirmed in Cork just over two months ago, hospital management moved quickly to ensure it had sufficient capacity to deal with a surge in cases.
Additional Covid-19 ward and ICU capacity were put in place at CUH.
However, while a significant number of people who contracted the virus have received inpatient treatment, Dr Sadlier says in that time they have never needed to go beyond using one Covid-19 ward, and that the biggest number of patients treated at any one time was around 40.
Last night just three people with confirmed Covid-19 were being treated at the hospital.
Dr Sadlier said it was possible to provide care for such patients in isolation rooms.
She said that if there was a spike in cases, the ward was still there if needed, but she was hopeful that this would not be the case.
“I hope we won’t see that, but it is still early days,” she said.
She stressed that a huge amount of work had gone into sourcing PPE, developing infrastructure, making the hospital safe, and ensuring that all the structures are in place to deal with any increase in cases in the weeks and months ahead.
The development comes as latest figures show that 1,249 cases of Covid-19 had been reported in Cork up to midnight on Tuesday.
The cumulative incidence rate of confirmed cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 population in Cork, meanwhile, is 230.1, the sixth- lowest rate in the country, and a figure which Dr Sadlier said was “remarkable” given that Cork city is the second-biggest urban centre in the country.
“The community in Cork flattened the curve beyond what I would have expected was possible,” she said.
The infectious diseases consultant said she believed that after the first two cases were identified in Cork, people quickly realised just how serious the virus could be.
She suggested that while people from all around the country have followed the official guidance, that the community in Cork may have been quicker to do so.
“The buy-in from the public saved so many people from ending up coming into us in hospital,” she said.
While the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Cork may be lower than what was expected, Dr Sadlier said that the last few weeks have nonetheless been “intense”.
“It has been devastating for some people,” she said.
“And it has been frightening for staff seeing people sick, caring for people.
“We have seen the reports about healthcare workers who have died, and it brings the reality of all of this home.
“We have had colleagues who have been sick, and everyone has rallied around them.”
Dr Sadlier said she believes many people are being sensible and following a common-sense approach to help reduce the spread of Covid-19, but she stressed that it is important that people remain vigilant as they ease into the “new normal”.
“We just need to keep it up,” she said.
“I think people are behaving sensibly and we have to not take our eye off the ball, to hold firm — we need to stay the course.”
Dr Sadlier said that she was really proud to work in the health service, adding: “The whole hospital has just been amazing.
“I stood there today [at the Covid-19 ward] and thought back to March when we got the first positive result,” she said.
“I remember that day and I just couldn’t have predicted this.
“I genuinely just think we have done so much in the community and hospitals, it is amazing,” she added.