Tony Canavan, CEO of the Saolta Hospital Group, has thanked healthcare staff in the west for the flexibility they have shown working to keep hospitals operating, and patients receiving care, despite the extremely challenging circumstances of COVID-19.
7,900 healthcare workers in the hospital group have received a first dose of the COVID-19, and 3,000 people have been fully vaccinated he also revealed.
The Saolta University Hospital Group consists of UHG, Merlin Park, and Portiuncula hospitals in Galway, as well as Mayo, Sligo, Roscommon, and Letterkenny University Hospitals.
But even with the growing number of staff vaccinated against COVID-19, Tony Canavan cautioned healthcare staff not to let their guards down, and to continue with current precautions in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus, which has been straining health services.
In the past four to five weeks, hospitals across the west of Ireland have been put under extreme pressure by a surge of hospitalisations for COVID-19 since the Christmas period.
“We’ve seen the number of patients with COVID-19 increase quite significantly, and the rate of increase has been very rapid.”
“Most of our hospitals are managing outbreaks on their sites, and this puts particular pressure back on services, but also back on staff.”
There have been “quite a number” of hospital staff who have themselves been infected with COVID-19 Tony Canavan said, while other staff members have been close contacts of people infected.
He went on to thank staff at all Saolta Hospitals for the “flexibility” they have shown in the past few weeks, ensuring that patients get the best level of care despite the current circumstances.
“But I also want to thank you for the support that you’ve shown to each other in what has been a really difficult time.”
Tony Canavan said that things have seemed to be improving in the past week, but that people still need to be cautious, as the Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan has recently warned that the infection levels in the community remain worryingly high.
There were 96 new cases reported in Galway yesterday, the second highest level in the country behind Dublin.
Galway’s hospitals have begun to see a decline from the recent peak in hospitalisations and ICU admissions due to COVID-19.
The latest figures from the HSE, as of 8pm on Wednesday, show that there were just over 50 confirmed cases in Galway’s hospitals, with 45 at UHG and 8 at Portiuncula.
Of those, 10 patients were in the ICU at University Hospital Galway, while another three were in Portiuncula’s Intensive Care Unit.
“What that means for us is that we must continue to do all that we can in the work place to protect ourselves and to protect each other.”
While outside of work, Tony Canavan urged staff to limit the number of contacts they have as much as possible to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
“We’ve been rolling out the vaccination programme for COVID-19 since just before the start of this year, and so far it’s going well.”
“We have now given a first dose of the vaccination to over 7,900 healthcare workers from across the Saolta Group. Over 3,000 people have received their second dose.”
“We are committed to ensuring that all healthcare within the Saolta Group receive their vaccination as quickly as possible.”
“At the moment that’s dependant on the availability of the vaccine, and we’re being told that there will be increased levels as this month progresses.”
The Saolta Group has been hiring additional staff to handle the growing rollout of the vaccine programme, as well as preparing their clinics so that when the vaccine does become available, the healthcare group will be able to roll it out quickly.