‘We are asking people to hold firm, the community has been fantastic’

By Mary Dennehy

THE CEO of Tallaght University Hospital has this week encouraged the community to #HoldFirm, and to continue with its “fantastic” support of the local hospital as it looks forward to a phased return of activity.

While Tallaght University Hospital’s (TUH) positive Covid inpatient numbers continue to decrease, its emergency department (ED) activity is on the increase as people attend for a variety of general health reasons.

TUH HoldFirm virtual visit compressor

There has been 8,550 virtual visits at Tallaght University Hospital

This increase in attendances are non-Covid related, with TUH experiencing a two per cent increase last week in ED attendances when compared to the same period last year.

This week, Lucy Nugent, TUH chief Executive, has asked the community to continue with its support of the hospital as it prepares  for a phased return of “new normal” activity. 

“We are asking people to hold firm, the community has been fantastic”, Ms Nugent said.

“If every community plays their part we will get on top of the virus and get it to manageable levels. We have some way to go, but there is hope.

“Overall, the trend in the number of cases and deaths is in decline. However, one death is one death too many.”

Describing herself as being “cautiously optimistic” at this moment in time, Ms Nugent said: “I am very grateful for the effort of our staff here and to the community.

“An enormous effort has been made by the community and staff.

“I am very proud of the staff, they have gone above and beyond and made personal sacrifices, their families have made sacrifices.

“We would ask the community to continue supporting us… increases in people being outside defeats the whole purpose in containing the virus.”

As ED department activity increases in relation to general illness, Ms Nugent has asked for understanding and patience from the community.

TUH HoldFirm Lucy Nugent compressor

Lucy Nugent, CEO of Tallaght University Hospital

“We now have the challenge of social distancing [in ED] and the use of extra PPE equipment, which slows us down”, Ms Nugent said.

“We are asking people to be patient and to go to their GP in the first instance, where appropriate. We also have a reduced number of chairs in our waiting room.”

Ms Nugent added: “People who have symptoms of Covid but are not actually unwell, it’s your GP you need to contact first.

“If you visit the ED and are not unwell, the pathway is back to your GP.”

In recent months, the staff at TUH have introduced numerous new services and supports for both inpatients and out-patients, such as virtual clinics, the movement of Oncology off site and the diabetes service being delivered over the phone.

These new innovative ways of ensuring the continuation of patient-focused services are testament to the entire team at TUH, who have worked together in support of all their patients.

“We are looking forward to a phased return to the new normal of hospital activity”, Ms Nugent told The Echo. 

“It has been challenging but we have started doing some positive things that we will continue.

“We will have some new ways of how we deliver services going forward, the feedback from patients has been very positive [over recent months] so we’ll keep some new services like the virtual clinics and telecoms.

“There’s nothing like a crisis to unleash creativity and innovation and we are supporting that.”

Alongside innovation in how medical care is delivered, the hospital has also supported the wellbeing of its patients, ensuring they can stay connected to loved ones despite visiting restrictions.

More than 2,500 care packs delivered to the hospital by families were handed out to patients by staff, with 131 letters emailed to patients through the hospital’s Send Love initiative.

More than 8,550 virtual visits have also taken place through the use of iPads which, disinfected after each use, allow patients to connect with loved ones.

As the team at TUH continues to care, support, adapt and innovate, the message from their frontline workers is to Hold Firm.

#HoldFirm is a national message asking people to continue adhering to guidelines to protect themselves, their families, frontline workers and essential services.

“Hold Firm is a national message…. and we’ve started our own campaign internally in [TUH]”, Ms Nugent said.

“[#HoldFirm] is a symbol of hope, a symbol of support for frontline workers. It’s a giver of hope, people feel they are getting somewhere collectively.”

For further details visit TUH or follow the local hospital on Facebook.

VOX POP - Staff on #HoldFirm

TUH HoldFirm Debbie compressor

Debbie Ennis – Phlebotomy Manager

“I #HoldFirm because I want to save patients’ lives and my own.”

TUH HoldFirm Peter compressor

Dr Peter Lavin – Consultant Nephrologist & General Physician Clinical Director Medical Directorate

“I’ll #HoldFirm to keep TUH a safer place for patients and staff.”

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