A senior doctor in intensive care said hospitals could handle critically ill patients for now, but said there were concerns about a possible increase in Covid-19 cases.
As of today, there are 86 Covid-19 patients in intensive care units (ICUs) in the country – an increase of 12 patients from yesterday.
Currently, since this morning, there are 464 Covid-19 patients in hospitals nationwide – a decrease of nine in the past 24 hours.
Dr Coleman O’Loughlin, President of the Intensive Care Society of Ireland, speaks Ireland MorningHe said he believed the capacity of the intensive care units could handle the increase.
“Right now, the numbers are increasing, but we are able to deal with the numbers coming from emergency departments to the wards and the intensive care unit and at the same time deal with the non-Covid activities in the hospital,” he said.
The doctor sounded a cautious note when discussing expectations of a possible increase in the coming weeks and months.
“I suppose our concerns arise about the expectations and the outlook that we are talking about like yesterday, with up to 1,000 patients in hospital, 150 in the intensive care unit over the next two weeks and months.
“This is very worrying because it will be very difficult to deal with this increased activity at all levels of the hospital.
«Not all of them will survive, and those who do will be very unwell for a long time afterwards,» he said.
Dr O’Loughlin said it was a «huge challenge» for staff in intensive care unit departments.
“We were hoping we wouldn’t have to face it again, but the numbers are there and they happen, transition [in] Society is much higher than we would like.
“There is a relationship between the high rate of transmission and the community associated with hospital and ICU patients – it has always been there. It will happen, it is inevitable,” he said.
“Every hospital will have a different point where they will have to sort of think about how they operate as a hospital in terms of dealing with increased Covid activity,” said Dr O’Loughlin.
The doctor, who is also a consultant pulmonologist, said there are concerns in the medical community about the potential for a sudden increase.
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He said hospitals would have to activate a plan that would see elective procedures such as suffering surgery, which would result in «enormous waiting lists».
The reason for this is that staff in other parts of individual hospitals will be moved out of their normal duties to care for Covid-19 patients. This will shut down parts of the facilities to facilitate power surge activity.
Dr O’Loughlin said that despite the high vaccination rates in the community, there was still a large group of people who had not been vaccinated.
He explained that the transmission rate is still high despite the vaccination rate, and said that this is causing people who have not been vaccinated to have serious effects of the virus.
«Nearly all of our ICU patients are not immunized at the moment, so the concept of providing a great deal of protection from the vaccine has occurred, and what doesn’t seem to have happened to the same level is to reduce transmission,» he added.
On the same radio programme, Dr Ian Conehan, a consultant pulmonologist at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, said 10% of its medical beds were accommodating Covid-19 patients.
Cunehan said August was a very busy month for the hospital as it were, but the medical ward had become fully focused on Covid-19.
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