Local TD Denis Naughten has questioned the Minister for Health on the capacity of Portiuncula Hospital to deal with the surge in patients as a result of Covid-19.
“During the first week in January, Portiuncula Hospital had an average 13 patients on trolleys overnight and as a direct result of the reduction in the number of beds in the hospital due to Covid restrictions,” stated Denis Naughten.
“Last June I wrote to the Minister’s predecessor pointing out that Portiuncula University Hospital, Ballinasloe, was in a desperate situation because it has lost 10% of its acute hospital capacity due to Covid-19 configuration.
“The hospital was very proactive and put forward two very specific proposals. The first was to develop two separate modular buildings: one for an accident and emergency department that could segregate Covid and non-Covid patients and the second modular building was to take the outpatient department out of the acute hospital and convert the old outpatient department into 13 single rooms. At present Portiuncula hospital, which is one of the biggest acute hospitals servicing the midlands while trying to manage an infectious disease, has only 13 single rooms.
“While funding has been forthcoming for the modular building for the outpatient department, no refurbishment work has yet taken place of the old outpatient department and no funding has been provided for the second modular building for the accident and emergency department.
“It is totally unacceptable that the hospital is operating at 10% less capacity today, with just 13 single rooms which leaves it in an impossible position to manage the pandemic and the challenges that currently exist.”
As a result of the lack of movement on the issue, Denis Naughten put two specific questions to the Minister for Health: “Will funding be provided to expedite the refurbishment of the old outpatient department? Will funding be provided to ensure that we have a modular building to deal with the chaotic situation we currently have within the emergency department?”
Responding the Minister stated: “It is a very specific question around a very important capital build and capital refurbishment so I will revert to him with a note on it.”
Commenting on the Minister’s response, Denis Naughten said: “The notes we now need from the Minister are those sanctioning the funding to provide actual beds in our hospital to deal with the current situation. To the best of my knowledge, Portiuncula is the only acute model 3 or model 4 hospital in the country that did not secure additional beds to cope with the surge in Covid infections.”