ICU capacity doubled at Saolta hospitals in preparation for surge


ICU capacity in the Saolta Hospital Group in the west of Ireland has been doubled to deal with a potential surge in Covid-19 patients.

Tony Canavan, CEO of Saolta, said that they have increased intensive care capacity across all of their hospitals with ICU facilities, which will be needed if there is a surge in cases in the coming weeks.

“This has involved in some cases doubling the number of ICU beds,” Canavan said, adding “We are continuing to see an increase in the number of patients requiring ICU care across the Group.”

The Saolta Hospital Group includes Galway’s public hospitals: UHG, Merlin Park Hospital, and Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that Ireland may see some of its “darkest days” in the coming weeks when the peak of the coronavirus pandemic hits in an address on Easter Sunday.

For more than a week now processes have been in place to ensure that Covid-19 patients are treated separately from others from the moment they arrive at the hospital Tony Canavan said.

Other preparations have included purchasing additional specialist equipment for Saolta hospitals, including ventilators, and they are continuing to place orders for more.

“Staff across the Group’s hospitals have reorganised their teams to enable them to provide care to patients safely.”

“A large number of staff have undertaken additional training so that they can support their ICU colleagues if required.”

In Galway, the Saolta Group is also working to move patients who would otherwise undergo medical rehabilitation in Merlin Park Hospital to Bon Secours.

While it is hoped that patients who require cancer treatments and urgent surgery can be facilitated at Galway Clinic.

It was announced at the end of March that private hospitals would essentially operate as part of the public health service for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Galway stood at 197 as of Monday evening, with a total of 10,647 cases confirmed in the Republic.