Downe has ‘surge plan’ in place for staff to deal with crisis

Downe has ‘surge plan’ in place for staff to deal with crisis

18 March 2020

THE Downe Hospital is one of many hospitals across the province which has emergency procedures in place to deal with coronavirus patients. 

While the current situation is evolving and being updated constantly, the South Eastern Trust has confirmed that the Downpatrick hospital does have a so-called “surge plan” in place.

Health chiefs responsible for the Downe have confirmed arrangements have been put in place to assist in dealing with the spread of the deadly virus.

In recognition of the expected rise in cases across Northern Ireland, the South Eastern Trust is reducing non-urgent activity. 

This includes non-urgent consultant-led outpatient appointments, day cases and inpatient and diagnostic work, with health chiefs explaining the downturn will allow staff to focus on preparations and the training required to care for suspected and confirmed cases. Health officials say that it will also ensure that sufficient capacity is released to address any increase in demand for services.

Currently, only non-urgent outpatients, day case, inpatient and diagnostic services will be reduced, but any suspect cancer or urgent episodes of care will continue.

Patients whose appointments have been cancelled will have received a telephone call or a letter. If patients have not been contacted, they should attend their appointment as normal. 

The Trust — which is providing updates on its website and social media pages — said that given the risks from coronavirus, hospitals and other providers have to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of patients and staff. 

Officials say people with underlying health problems are at particular risk, which is why hospital environments and care homes need to take care. 

The Trust is asking the public to attend emergency department or outpatients alone, or only accompanied by one adult, with only one adult visitor per day at hospitals, unless in exceptional circumstances and following discussion with the ward sister or similar.

People are asked not to visit hospitals if they are unwell, wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after visiting and use the hand sanitiser gel provided.

People are reminded to ask if their visit is essential and check in advance and follow any localised arrangements which hospitals and other care settings have put in place.

Trust officials say they accept that for many families and patients, visits are an essential and important to patient wellbeing.

The health trust’s lead for infection prevention and control, Monica Merron, says that while the situation is changing very rapidly and is putting significant pressure on the organisation, the organisation has a strong plan and a good structure to try and build and use its staff effectively.

She added: “It is important that people keep their hands away from their face; their hands are what will infect them through eyes, nose and mouth. 

“When people are in public, avoid dense gatherings of people and crowds, which is particularly important to older people. There will be two set types of cases, those who get a flu like illness and are fit to look after themselves at home and those who will require hospital care and admission.”

Health officials have confirmed that the organisation’s switchboard is extremely and anyone who has concerns should not telephone the organisation.

They are advised to visit and if concerned about recent travel history, contact the NHS Helpline service by dialling 111. 

Those with a high temperature and/or a new dry persistent cough should stay at home and self-isolate for 7 days and only call their GP if they cannot cope with symptoms at home, if their condition gets worse or if their symptoms do not get better after seven days. In a medical emergency, dial 999.