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Further Visiting Restrictions at UHL in Response to COVID-19 Outbreak

Media Release: 5th October, 2021

We regret to announce an escalation of visiting restrictions at University Hospital Limerick as we continue to manage an outbreak of Covid-19 that is currently affecting four inpatient wards.

As a precautionary measure, and following a meeting of the Hospital Crisis Management Team this Tuesday, visiting restrictions have now been extended to all inpatient wards.

Restrictions on visits to the Emergency Department, Acute Surgical Assessment Unit, and Acute Medical Assessment Unit at UHL also remain in force.

We regret any inconvenience this ban on routine visiting causes for patients and their loved ones. Our outbreak control team is reviewing the situation daily and hospital management has decided it is now necessary to impose these measures in the interests of patient safety and keeping essential services open for all our patients.

We wish to reassure patients and their loved ones that all appropriate infection control precautions are being followed to minimise the risk of spreading infection among staff and patients within our health facilities, and also within the wider community.

The only exceptions to the visiting ban are as follows:

  • Parents visiting children in hospital
  • People assisting confused patients (e.g. dementia) (on a case-by-case basis)
  • Compassionate grounds e.g. for patients who are critically unwell or at end of life (on a case-by-case basis)

All these exemptions are limited to one person per patient only. In cases where these exemptions apply, we strongly recommend that members of the public are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before visiting UHL to minimise any risks to our patients and to visitors themselves.

We are also appealing to members of the public not to visit their relatives/loved ones outdoors on the grounds of the hospital as this can also present a Covid-19 transmission risk.

The hospital continues to deal with record volumes of patients attending its Emergency Department, a pattern that has been sustained over a number of months and is being replicated around the country.

We continue to follow our escalation plan, which includes additional ward rounds, accelerating discharges and identifying patients for transfer to our Model 2 hospitals. We have opened surge capacity in UHL, Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals to meet the current demand and scheduled care remains under review.

We remind members of the public to consider all their care options before presenting to ED. Injury units in Ennis and Nenagh are open from 8am to 8pm, and St John’s is open from 8am to 7pm. Injury Units are for the treatment of broken bones, dislocations, sprains strains, wounds, scalds and minor burns. More information on our Injury Units is available here. Anyone with less serious illness or conditions should contact their GPs or out-of-hours GP services. However, if you are seriously injured or ill or are worried your life is at risk the ED will assess and treat you as a priority.

Noreen Spillane, Chief Operations Officer, UL Hospitals Group, said: “We know these strict visiting restrictions are difficult on patients but they are now necessary as we look to reduce footfall at UHL and reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19. We have the highest number of Covid-positive inpatients in the country at present and we continue to experience a surge in emergency presentations. We are sorry to any of our patients experiencing long wait times for a bed at present. Our focus is now on managing the current outbreak and protecting patient pathways for those who need emergency care as well as patients scheduled to come in for surgery, for diagnostic investigations and for outpatient appointments, many of whom have already faced delayed access to care due to the pandemic.”

Need information and advice on COVID-19? Go to www.hse.ie/coronavirus