Coronavirus latest: Isolation and stepdown care unit planned for Cork

Coronavirus latest: Isolation and stepdown care unit planned for Cork
HSE start preparations for a Covid-19 Isolation and Step Down Facility in the Conference Centre at Citywest Hotel Dublin. A similar facility is to be set up in Cork. 

The HSE is planning to open a Covid-19 facility in Cork, similar to that which will soon begin operating at Dublin’s Citywest Hotel complex.

Ann O’Connor, HSE chief operations officer, confirmed that a similar unit will open in Cork.

“We’re looking at a number of these facilities, particularly in our main urban areas,” she said.

“Because there are many things that we don’t know, we have to prepare for this additional capacity to be available in terms of stepdown.”

The temporary facility at Citywest comprises self-isolation and overflow stepdown facilities. 

It will provide 750 rooms with 1,100 beds for those who cannot isolate at home, and around 450 beds for step-down care from hospitals.

The HSE says it hopes these will not be needed, but they are a necessary precaution. 

Latest figures show 46 Covid-19-related deaths in Ireland, with more than 200 confirmed virus cases in Cork.

The new centres are part of a ramping-up of preparations across the healthcare sector in Ireland for the anticipated surge in coronavirus cases.

By utilising private hospital facilities and securing adding equipment, the HSE is set to double the number of critical care beds from 250 to 500.

But there are fears that the number of patients needing these beds is likely to soar in the coming days and weeks.

Mr Reid said about 1,700 additional beds with ventilation support would be available, with plans to increase that number by 100 each week for the next ten weeks.

Anne O’Connor, Chief Operations Officer (COO), HSE pictured in Citywest.Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland.
Anne O’Connor, Chief Operations Officer (COO), HSE pictured in Citywest.Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland.

HSE chief operations officer Anne O'Connor said it was impossible to be certain when the peak might come, but that HSE planning models suggested it could be mid-April.

"I don't know that any of us can really say exactly when the peak is going to be," she said.

"We are certainly working towards the peak in mid-April - so over the next two to three weeks. And that is what we are planning for, but clearly we don't know. But we do have to work on some basis when it comes to planning, so we are planning for a peak kind of between the 10th and the 14th of April, around that time."

Mr Reid said the hospital system would come under significant pressure as he acknowledged that the HSE was nervous about what lay ahead.

"Our hospital system in particular will be under significant pressure in the coming weeks," he said.

Mr Reid urged the public to support healthcare workers in any way they could.

"I know the public is nervous, our healthcare workers are very nervous too and we are nervous for them," he said.

"So it is going to be a difficult period. So this is a special call-out from me as the CEO of the HSE to really support our health care workers in the coming weeks."

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