Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan convened a briefing meeting for Carlow Kilkenny Oireachtas members and senior staff at St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny on 07/01/21 to ascertain the current COVID situation, as well as current and future capital needs of the hospital.
‘With the ongoing and escalating pandemic emergency and being aware of the capacity and bed space challenges at St Luke’s, I felt that it was important that all of our local Oireachtas members would be fully briefed, and in a position to collaborate, on a cross party basis to help improve facilities, support staff, and advocate for additional capital investment in the hospital’, said Minister Noonan.
Although those who attended the briefing were told that there are currently 30 patients with COVID in the hospital and 80 staff absent either with a diagnosis or as close contacts, there is much to be positive about.
Malcolm Noonan explains, 'The staff at St Luke’s are excited with the efficient and rapid COVID-19 vaccination of key health professionals. This began in a purpose-built unit of the hospital today. I was delighted to hear that the first teams to be vaccinated were those who are starting the vaccine roll out in nursing homes in the constituency.'
Approximately 4,000 healthcare professionals in St Luke’s, in GP clinics, and other healthcare settings in Carlow and Kilkenny will have the first dose of the vaccine within the next 2 weeks, the attendees were told. This is over and above the roll out of vaccinations in community settings like nursing homes.
Another positive, the meeting was told, is the state-of-the-art Critical Care unit. Minister Noonan elaborates, 'The team are delighted with the new facility which they say is as good as anywhere else in Ireland. However, we were told that while the facilities, ventilators, air exchange processes, and so on are all top class, there is an extreme shortage of nurses with specialised training to work within the unit.'
Minister Noonan said that he would be working with his Oireachtas colleagues to request the prioritisation of the training required. 'I will also be supporting the call for inclusion of the 125-bed-block in the Capital Programme', he said. 'This constitutes a necessary investment in St Luke’s to bring it up to standard to adequately address post-COVID health challenges and future-proof the hospital.'
The meeting was also told of the importance of a partnership with private hospitals to deal with immediate capacity at St Luke’s and to allow for the continued treatment of non-COVID cases. Again, Oireachtas members will be bringing this to Government.
All Oireachtas members present were unanimous in their praise and thanks to the staff in St Luke’s who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and now are dealing with a massive surge in community infection. Minister Noonan also thanked those who attended the briefing, saying that it was important that locally, all five TDs for Carlow and Kilkenny work collectively for the needs of the hospital.