QUESTIONS RAISED Staff and patients’ families have hit out at the management of Covid-19 at Mayo University Hospital. Pic: Ciara Moynihan
Concerns over staff and families’ complaints
The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) needs to investigate Covid-19 controls at Mayo University Hospital.
That’s according to Castlebar-based Cllr Michael Kilcoyne who was speaking after a week where staff and family of patients both hit out at the management of the pandemic at the hospital.
A nurse at the hospital told RTÉ Radio 1’s Drivetime programme last Wednesday that it was ‘simply not true’ for management at Mayo University Hospital to claim there was no crossover between positive, suspected and non-Covid patients.
The family of a man who died at the hospital blamed ‘dreadful management’ for his death and said Covid and non-Covid patients were being treated on the same ward.
“These complaints are coming from staff and coming from families of patients who are in contact with me and other public representatives,” Cllr Kilcoyne told The Mayo News last night (Monday).
“Another family contacted me about a man last Wednesday who was about to be put in a Covid ward after a stroke. He tested negative and would have been put in a Covid ward only for the family kicked up about it. Staff and families are crying out for help.
“The HSE and the Minister needs to send in people to take over and I’m calling on HIQA to investigate what’s happening in the hospital. Otherwise more people will die that don’t need to die.
“If the HSE and Saolta are as on the ball as they say they are, why not welcome in HIQA to investigate what’s happening and prove me and the staff and the families of patients in there and the families of people in cemeteries wrong,” he argued.
He also criticised the lack of clarity about the number of Covid-19 deaths at Mayo University Hospital, which he said he sought as far back as May 6 and said visitor restrictions were reducing accountability.
“I think the biggest thing driving this is visitors are banned. I know there’s good reasons for that but it means loved ones cannot visit and see what is happening and so that accountability is lost. I think that’s terrible. I’m really disappointed too that three of our four TDs have been silent; only Dara Calleary has spoken out,” he added.
In response to a series of questions from The Mayo News yesterday, Saolta, the hospital group for the north-west region issued a statement last night.
They said Mayo University Hospital has implemented ‘a range of infection prevention and control practices to manage suspect and confirmed Covid-19 patients and reduce Covid infection rates amongst patients and staff’.
“The hospital has ensured that patients are streamed into Covid-19 and non Covid-19 pathways since mid-March in line with the guidance at the time. This meant that to the greatest extent possible, patients who were suspected of having Covid-19 or were confirmed of having Covid-19 were kept physically separate from other patients in the hospital. This required some physical changes to the hospital, including a new entrance.
“While every effort is made to ensure patients are streamed separately, occasionally it will happen that a person in a designated ‘non-covid’ space will turn out to be positive as s/he may not have shown any symptoms. Patients who develop symptoms consistent with Covid-19 on a ward, are tested rapidly and transferred to the Covid-19 ward if diagnosed.
“The hospital has also separated its clinical staff into teams to minimise contact between staff and reduce the risk of patient infection healthcare worker and this was all based on the national guidance provided at that time.
“The Saolta University Health Care Group is assured that the appropriate control measures are currently in place in Mayo University Hospital in relation to the management of Covid 19. There has been Saolta Executive, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases input into the management of Covid-19 in the hospital. In line with good practice, the hospital also had direct input from the HSE’s Public Health Specialist service,” they stated.
Responding, Cllr Kilcoyne said the language in the statement was not emphatic enough.
“When people’s lives are at stake and when people are dying, ‘to the greatest extent possible’ is not good enough. It should be very clear. They talk about minimising contact between staff from Covid and non Covid wards – they should be eliminating it,” he said.
He also took issue with what he referred to as a ‘diktat’ sent to staff in March which he said was ‘effectively threatening staff not to talk about problems in the hospital’. An actor’s voice was used for the interview with the nurse at the hospital on RTÉ Radio 1.
In response to questions from The Mayo News (on Monday evening) asking if staff had been asked to desist from commenting publicly about concerns they may have at the hospital, Saolta issued the following statement: “At the time of the first confirmed case in the hospital, and in the context of numerous queries coming into the hospital, an email was circulated to staff to remind everyone of their responsibility to maintain patient confidentiality and ensure that no information relating to any patient or group of patients was shared externally either on social media or in any other way. The message reflected the seriousness of any breach of confidentiality by a healthcare worker.”
The latest figures released yesterday evening said there were a confirmed number of 568 cases in Mayo, compared to 461 in Galway and 129 in Sligo.
“Why do we have more than four times the number of cases as Sligo? Why do we have more than 20 percent the number of cases as Galway? I’m concerned about the hospital and a lot of people are. We need more answers,” said Cllr Kilcoyne.
Concerns from staff at the hospital were first voiced in The Mayo News as far back as April 14 when a nurse spoke about feeling ‘completely let down’ by hospital management after being spat at by a patient presenting with Covid-19 symptoms.