By Carmel Hayes
ANOTHER Covid-19 patient was admitted to Portlaoise hospital at the weekend, increasing the number of virus cases from eight to nine.
Two of those diagnosed with Covid were critically ill in ICU last night, according to the latest HSE report.
The hospital was also full to capacity last night, with all ICU beds filled and no vacant general beds.
Today’s HSE report, released this morning, shows that another Covid patient was admitted to the hospital yesterday.
While the number of Covid patients in Portlaoise has dropped considerably since January, there has been relatively little change in overall numbers during the past week.
On Sunday 14 February, there were eight confirmed Covid patients at the hospital, including one in ICU.
Last Saturday 20 February, there were also eight Covid patients who included two in ICU. That number is equal to the highest recorded during the pandemic’s first wave, when Portlaoise hospital had eight confirmed Covid cases on 19 April.
During the first month of 2021, the worst month of the Covid crisis, frontline staff at Portlaoise hospital coped with a record number of 25 coronavirus patients, including 12 critically ill in ICU.
While there has been a major fall in Covid patient numbers, frontline staff are still under immense pressure as they continue to look after virus patients, as well as those critically ill with non-coronavirus conditions.
The HSE has praised and thanked Portlaoise hospital staff and the entire community of Laois for their commitment and support in the battle against Covid-19.
A statement issued by the HSE’s Dublin Midland Hospital Group (DMHG) says it was the work and resilience of staff that ensured Portlaoise hospital was ready to respond, particularly during the ‘immense challenges’ posed by the third wave of the pandemic in January.
The DMHG statement says that, when the first Irish case of Covid-19 was reported in late February 2020, the gravity of the situation was ‘not appreciated or fully understood’ but hospitals responded immediately.
The statement says: “All hospitals mobilised very quickly to shore up capacity, redeploy and re-prioritise. This was done at an extraordinary pace, flexibility and resilience. Services were adapted and the unknown was truly embraced, in one of the most extraordinary difficult years for Irish health services.
“The recent surge of cases in January again posed the most immense challenges but the planning, foresight and adaptability and again resilience of our hospitals, including the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise, ensured the readiness of the services to respond. Thankfully, community transmission is reducing but at a much slower pace.
“The Hospital Group and the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise would like to acknowledge the commitment and dedication of all staff at Portlaoise hospital. In addition, we would like to acknowledge the support of the community of Portlaoise and throughout the county of Laois.”
The statement from the DMHG, of which Portlaoise hospital is a member, says that the group was able to ‘successfully configure’ a combined ICU/ CCU (coronary care unit) in Portlaoise hospital at the outset of the pandemic, which provided ‘more appropriate capacity with additional equipment’ to deal with the crisis. A new respiratory assessment unit and additional staffing is also being planned.
The statement adds that, at the peak of the Covid surge, ‘group-wide support across and within hospitals’ in the DMHG meant that ICU patients could be ‘safely and appropriately transferred’ from Portlaoise to another hospital if required.