28 May 2022

Watch: Response of Portlaoise health teams to St Fintan's Covid-19 crisis praised

One of the doctors leading Ireland's battle has praised the response of health teams in Portlaoise who managed the fatal outbreak of the Covid-19 at St Fintan's Hospital.

Watch video above about what Dr Colm Henry had to say at the National Public Health Emergency Team briefing on the day after the nine deaths were confirmed by the HSE.

In the video, he said the actions by local combined teams, including Portlaoise hospital staff, to support residents is a model to follow in other cases of outbreaks. 

"There has been a very robust response in the Department of Health and St Fintan's hospital in Portlaoise is a really good example. There was an outbreak, in people who have lived there for many years, in their home. A public health team led by Abbie Collins, over the entire Easter Bank Holiday weekend, were there with the team from the acute hospital who were only up the road, working with the Mental Health team. 

"First of all putting in those essential measures of cohorting, isolating and also working with the clinical teams in identifying the best clinical care for each patient, which involved tailored care with the active instruction and involvement of Dr John Connaughton and his team from Portlaoise hospital and also the end of life palliative specialist care.

"This combination of specialist nursing care, with Tracey Quigley in St Fintan's, is a combination we need to see in outbreaks, where in a nursing home or mental health facility. It's public health led, it involves testing, it involves clinical care," he said.

"It was an example of the person staying in their home, where they have been cared for sometimes up to 20 years, supported by acute hospitals, supported by palliative care and its that kind of combined strategy that will help nursing homes. Not by displacing their care but by enhancing and supporting and helping them through this pandemic crisis," he said.

Dr Henry himself a Geriatrician, said that Covid-19 does not present the usual symptoms of temperature or cough in people who are frail or old, making it harder to identify cases.

"It's a very vulnerable setting, with people who have presented unusually, untypically, sometimes silently," he said. 

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