24 May 2022

'Traumatic' impact - psychiatric nurses react to Covid-19 deaths in Laois centre

St Fintan's Hospital

The deaths of nine people in one weekend in a psychiatric unit in Portlaoise, most with Covid-19, is "extremely difficult and even traumatic" for families and for staff, according to the association for psychiatric nurses in Ireland.

Eight of the nine people who died over Easter Weekend had tested positive for Covid-19. Another resident died on Tuesday April 14, a total of 10 in four days in the centre which still has 16 elderly residents.

This Thursday, Peter Hughes General Secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) gave a statement to the Leinster Express about the deaths in Maryborough Centre, Portlaoise, a centre for older people with psychiatric needs.

"On behalf of the PNA I would  like to offer my sincere condolences to the families, friends and relatives of those who died at the Maryborough Centre, St Fintan’s Hospital, Portlaoise.  It is an extremely difficult and even traumatic time for everyone involved, including the dedicated staff who have had to deal with a situation that is unprecedented in their experience," he said.

He said it highlights the "lethal virus" that is Covid-19.

"Any death of a loved one, and particularly those who are vulnerable is traumatic, but the numbers involved in Maryborough Centre over the past week bring home to us all the seriousness of the threat posed by Covid-19, not alone to those in residential and care settings but to the entire community.  This is a lethal virus that we are still learning about and this makes it all the more concerning and worrying for those frontline staff who are working tirelessly to care for and assist those in their care," he said.

The association has been monitoring the level of Personal Protective Equipment for its members and he said there had been shortages.

"PNA has been constantly monitoring the adequacy of the response to the Covid crisis in psychiatric and intellectual disability settings, including the allocation of adequate staffing, appropriate training and the supply and quality of PPE.  While in recent weeks, and in common with other services across the country, there were issues with the continuity of supply of PPE, PNA are satisfied that those issues have been resolved," Mr Hughes said.

"We are satisfied that in the case of the Maryborough Centre that the unit is appropriately staffed, has ample supply of PPE available and is supported by senior clinicians from the adjoining hospital," he said.

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