An important Message from the HSE’s Crisis Management Team in Community Healthcare Area 1 & Acute Hospitals - Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan, Sligo and Leitrim
The Crisis Management Team (CMT) co-ordinating all HSE Services across the Leitrim, Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and Sligo area has appealed to the general public to continue adhering to the public health guidelines over the Easter Bank holiday weekend.
The Chair of the CMT, John Hayes (Chief Officer, Community Healthcare Area 1) has also thanked all healthcare staff and their families, patients, carers and their families, the many statutory and voluntary agencies who have responded so positively during this crisis. The HSE is especially proud of staff for their commitment and dedication. There has been tremendous support for HSE staff and frontline workers across the communities we serve and I would like to acknowledge and thank everyone for their continued support.
The Crisis Management Team includes participation from Letterkenny University Hospital, Sligo University Hospital, Cavan General Hospital, Public Health Medicine, Infection Prevention and Control, National Ambulance Services, Emergency Management, Environmental Health, Procurement, Equipment and Supplies, Estates, ICT – in addition to Community Healthcare Area 1 key services which deliver community based Primary Care, Health and Wellbeing, Mental Health, Older Persons and Disability Services.
The CMT wishes to assure communities that extensive preparations for the impact of Covid-19 are in place. Some of the measures activated include:
· Increasing bed capacity across our acute hospitals and community hospitals/residences to provide additional ICU beds, acute beds, intermediate and step-down beds
· Operating six Covid 19 Testing Centres
· Providing a Contact Tracing Service
· Preparations for the opening of four Community Assessment Hubs for patients who are Covid positive and need a face to face clinical assessment which will; begin to open next week
· Infection Prevention and Control Team Covid Response Plan & Measures implemented across all Services
· Identifying self-isolation units across the area, should they be needed
· Supporting Community Response Forums in each County which are being led by the Local Authorities.
Most importantly, we are still providing essential/vital services to the population. Visiting restrictions are in place in all hospitals and residential centres, staff are doing everything possible to support patients and residents to keep in contact with family and friends.
Speaking, as the country enters into a critical phase in our fight against the virus, the CMT Chair, John Hayes said,“Everyone has their part to play in stopping the spread of the virus so please, please adhere to the advice. This is the biggest challenge ever faced by our health service and at times it feels daunting but we will get through the weeks ahead and we will get through this together."
Mr Hayes also advised that we might find ourselves more worried and anxious than usual in response to Covid. This is a normal reaction to something we are not used to. Uncertainty generates fear and it can make us feel like we have no control. The HSE has developed some useful information at https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/ mental-health/minding-your- mental-health-during-the- coronavirus-outbreak.html to support people's mental health and wellbeing at this time.
Commenting Ann Cosgrove, Chief Operations Officer, Saolta University Health Care Group and a member of the CMT added, “Letterkenny University Hospital and Sligo University Hospital continue to prepare for the increasing numbers of suspected and confirmed cases of COVID 19. Both hospitals have implemented processes to ensure that suspect COVID 19 and non-COVID 19 patients access the hospital and are treated using separate pathways. We have increased our ICU capacity in both hospitals and have trained a significant number of staff to support our ICU teams should that be necessary. I would like to acknowledge our staff and the commitment and dedication they continue to demonstrate as we deal with this very difficult public health emergency. Our hospitals have received huge support from the public and our communities and I want to thank them for that. I would also urge the public to continue following the HSE’s guidance on social distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. Flattening the curve gives our health services the time required to prepare for an increase in patients and minimises the chance of our services becoming overwhelmed”.
A positive development in recent days has been the establishment of Community Response Forums led by the Local Authorities to coordinate and mobilise community supports. The HSE is a member of each of the County based Forums. If you are concerned about vulnerable individuals who you think might benefit from this service, please make contact with the following Helplines:
· Donegal Helpline: 1800 928 982 or email@example.com
· Sligo Helpline: 1800 292 765 or firstname.lastname@example.org
· Leitrim Helpline: 071 965 0473 or email@example.com
· Cavan Helpline: 1800 300 404 or firstname.lastname@example.org
· Monaghan Helpline:1800 804 158 or email@example.com
Further advice is also outlined at www.hse.ie/coronavirus, there are simple but very effective steps we all must take each and every day. They include:
- Staying at home and keeping your contacts to your household
- Washing your hands properly and often
- Regular cleaning of surfaces in your home
- Cocooning for the over 70s and those people with a long term health condition - this means staying at home at all times and avoiding face to face contact
- Not travelling more than two kilometres from home.
- Maintaining a distance of two metres with other people.
- Working from home if possible.
“The over 70s and medically vulnerable people should stay at home at all times and avoid face-to-face contact. Even within the home, they should minimise all non-essential contact with other members of the household. Ask family, carers or neighbours for help to ensure you have the support you need. Employers of essential workers should enable and facilitate physical distancing between employees and other measures. If sick, especially with fever, cough or other respiratory symptom, do not go to work, stay at home, phone your doctor.”
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