Covid outbreak at Limerick maternity hospital sparks new visiting restrictions

Management said the restrictions to all inpatient wards were 'a precautionary measure' at a time of 'high community transmission which is affecting patients and staff'
Covid outbreak at Limerick maternity hospital sparks new visiting restrictions

David Raleigh

Increased visitor restrictions and infection control measures have been put in place at University Maternity Hospital Limerick following an outbreak of Covid-19 on its inpatient wards.

Access for nominated support partners to inpatient wards is now “limited to one two-hour slot per day between the hours of 2pm and 8pm”, a statement from the hospital this morning said.

The outbreak was declared on an inpatient ward on December 28th “after a number of patients tested positive.”

Hospital management said that the restrictions to all inpatient wards were “a precautionary measure” and were “being introduced at a time of high community transmission which is affecting patients and staff.”

“We expect to admit a number of women who have tested positive in the coming days and Covid-19 related staff absences are increasing across the health service,” the statement said.

“An outbreak control team has been established and we wish to reassure patients and their loved ones that all appropriate infection control precautions are being followed to minimise the risk of spreading.

“We also recognise the difficulty and distress any restriction in access causes to service users and their loved ones. We will continue to facilitate access for nominated support partners to the greatest degree practicable, these temporary restrictions will be reviewed on a continuing basis and we will issue a further update in the coming days.”

Compassionate grounds

Slots to allow access for nominated support partners to inpatient wards will be co-ordinated at ward level by hospital staff, who management said "will link directly with service users and nominated support partners."

The hospital said: “We recognise that this represents a considerable reduction in access on our inpatient wards. We will facilitate additional access for inpatients on compassionate grounds on a case-by-case basis where these restrictions are causing considerable distress.

“We are committed to increasing access for partners on our inpatient wards as soon as possible.

“An online system is available for nominated support partners to complete a Covid-19 questionnaire in advance of attending the hospital. We also encourage partners to consider taking an antigen test in advance of attending UMHL should they have one at home.”

Management said the new restrictions only affect its inpatient wards, and nominated support partners will continue to be permitted access to the following areas regardless of vaccination status, once a Covid-19 questionnaire and temperature screening has been completed at reception:

  • The labour ward (throughout labour and delivery);
  • Theatre (including elective and emergency C-sections);
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit / High Dependency Unit (which have designated time slots for parents of babies);
  • Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit;
  • Emergency high-risk admissions;
  • 12-week scan;
  • Anomaly scan.

The hospital urged nominated support partners “not to access the hospital if they have symptoms of Covid-19”.

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