Consultants worked at weekend to ease pressure on hospital

Consultants worked over the weekend to ease the pressure on the Emergency Department at Midlands Regional Hospital Mullingar.

Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner this week, hospital manager Kay Slevin said that this winter has been the busiest in the hospital’s history due to the high number of older people in particular requiring treatment for Covid, RSV and influenza.

She says that up to now the hospital has been “doing okay” in its response to the increase in patient numbers, thanks primarily to the hard work and dedication of staff.

“We have improved a lot of our processes internally, as well, which helped us in terms of flow throughout the day.

“It is down to the dedication of the teams in working really hard to manage bed capacity and to manage the patients within the Emergency Department.

“We have very good discharge processes in place. We don’t have high numbers of delayed discharges like other hospitals would have and that certainly helps as well. We are good at managing our delayed discharges.”

One of the reasons MRH Mullingar has been able to successfully manage delayed discharges is that staff have worked weekends to process patients, Ms Slevin says.

“We do have good integrated relationships with our community colleagues and our nursing homes. Right across Christmas, we would have been very well supported by the community in terms of any issues we would have had with delayed discharges.

“This weekend our consultant colleagues and their supporting doctors came in and did extra hours, with the support of their nursing colleagues, to help with the extra surge in attendances.

“That has helped our discharging throughout the weekend.

“It is a hospital-wide approach to managing capacity and that is certainly helping us over the last number of weeks with the surge in the emergency situation.”

From December 12, critically ill patients who previously had been treated at the ED in Navan hospital are now being brought to Mullingar. While Ms Slevin says that it is “very early days to make a judgement on whether there is an impact”, “any change to an ED within an area would be a concern for the surrounding hospitals”.

“Equally it is a concern for Mullingar but it’s just too early to confirm whether it has impacted or not,” she said.

She also noted that the hospital’s recently opened off-campus Minor Injuries Unit, located in the Charter Medical Private Hospital, Ballinderry, has helped ease the pressure on the ED and its staff.

“There are still reasonably small numbers attending, but that said, every attendance to the MIU is not coming in to the main ED.

“We are seeing an impact and we expect that to be more positive in the coming weeks and months.

“We have an extensive communications campaign.

“We have been advertising but that will be further enhanced to make sure people know about it. We are finding that some people are still not aware of the MIU.”

Ms Slevin added that the public has a role to play in helping the hospital manage the current surge in demand by considering the range of options available, such as the MIU, GP services and their local pharmacies, before attending the ED for treatment.