Stark warning from Cork nurses: 'Delivering care in overcrowded environments is not safe'

The INMO said members across Cork are ‘overwhelmed by the continuous levels of overcrowding which has been sustained over the summer months’.
Stark warning from Cork nurses: 'Delivering care in overcrowded environments is not safe'

Micheál Martin said that Covid-19 “remains a significant disruptive influence in our society, in the workplace and in hospitals in particular.”

THE Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) says its members in Cork are “overwhelmed” by overcrowding and calling for “immediate action from SSWH [South/South West Hospitals] Group and Government”.

Liam Conway, industrial relations officer with the INMO’s Cork office, warned that “delivering care in overcrowded environments is not safe”.

In Cork, almost 100 patients were hospitalised with Covid-19 as of Monday night, with 60 confirmed cases at Cork University Hospital (CUH) and 38 at Mercy University Hospital (MUH).

As of 8am yesterday, 87 people were waiting on trolleys in Cork hospitals, with 59 in CUH’s emergency department (ED) and 22 in MUH.

In Bantry General Hospital, where visitation restrictions remain in place, six patients were waiting for a bed.

In light of such overcrowding and an increase in Covid hospitalisations, nurses and midwives are calling for the reintroduction of mask-wearing in indoor and congregated settings and Covid screening on arrival to all hospitals when patients present at the ED or for same-day admission for elective care.

“It makes little sense to us that only those who are symptomatic in hospitals are being tested, this is leading to cross contamination of the virus unnecessarily in our hospitals,” said INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha. 

“It is impossible for our members to provide safe care when we are seeing huge numbers without beds in our hospitals coupled with high numbers of Covid hospitalisations. 

"The Government must take certain steps to stem the worst of this crisis.”

Mr Conway said members across Cork working in emergency departments and ward settings are ‘overwhelmed by the continuous levels of overcrowding which has been sustained over the summer months’.

“The additional challenges of the spike in Covid-19 cases has placed additional burden on CUH (Cork University Hospital), the Mercy and Kerry,” he said. “Our members are very concerned with the sustained pressures of overcrowding and Covid-19 on their health.

“They are very concerned about the consequential effect of the rise of Covid-19 transmission and overcrowding on their patients.”

Speaking to RTÉ yesterday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin acknowledged “high numbers” of Covid-19 were a concern. Micheál Martin said that Covid-19 “remains a significant disruptive influence in our society, in the workplace and in hospitals in particular.”

Professor Ivan Perry of the School of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College Cork (UCC) told The Echo: “It is hard to argue against mask-wearing in all health care settings and on public transport.

“The case for Covid screening upon attending hospital is also strong. It is not where we want to be but we have to respond to the situation as it is.”

The INMO is also calling on the National Immunisation Advisory Committee to advise that nurses, midwives, and healthcare workers be offered an appropriate booster vaccine soon and for the improvement of ventilation in healthcare settings, with the majority of outbreaks currently occurring in such settings.

Professor of Chemistry at UCC John Wenger, who specialises in atmospheric chemistry, air quality, and climate change, said he fully supports the INMO calling for improved ventilation.

“Nurses and midwives are working on the frontline and clearly deserve to have the very best ventilation measures in their workplace.

 “Improved ventilation will also reduce the spread of Covid-19 among patients in hospitals, which is unacceptably high at present.”

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