The Emergency Medical Consultant at Wexford General Hospital has said that they are coping well and are well prepared to tackle the covid-19 pandemic when it hits the model county. Dr Paul Kelly says that all necessary measures are now in place at the hospital and staff are well drilled and well prepared for what's coming down the tracks.
Dr Kelly said that he wasn't in a position to confirm or deny whether Wexford General had had any positive cases of covid-19 as a result of strict guidelines laid down by the HSE, but he says staff are braced and ready for action. 'We're coping quite well at the moment,' Dr Kelly said. 'We've been practicing towards this for the past three weeks in terms of the management of patients and careful plans have been put in place for the treatment and isolation of suspected cases of covid-19.'
Dr Kelly confirmed that a new respiratory assessment unit to deal with suspected coronavirus cases was to open yesterday. 'We're not badly affected yet,' he said. 'We're doing okay. People seem to be observing the social distancing guidelines etc. Also GPs are doing an awful lot of work and are really taking the pressure off emergency departments. We are pretty well prepared for it at this stage.'
When asked if figures were available for how many people had been tested for the virus, Dr Kelly was not at liberty to say. However, he did add: 'We have a solid testing regime in place and we are getting great support from the National Ambulance Service. At first testing was being carried out in the hospital. Now the national ambulance service are carrying out testing and there is a move towards community based testing by appointment. I'm sure this is something that could be introduced in Wexford down the line.'
In terms of regular patients attending the Emergency Department, Dr Kelly says that things are a bit quieter than normal. 'When compared to this time last year, the amount of patients passing through the Emergency Department is down by about 20%,' he said. 'This week last year we would have seen about 800 patients, whereas last week there was probably only around 600. All elective procedures have been cancelled and I suppose patients are only really coming to the hospital if it's a true emergency now. Obviously we would always encourage people to still come if they are feeling very unwell, but I suppose people are being that bit more careful about where they go.'