Wednesday, January 20, 2021

THE roll out of the Covid-19 vaccine is set to resume across Waterford city and county this week, as nursing homes, residential and healthcare centres continue to grapple with huge pressures owing to the rapid growth of the virus that has led to positive cases within some nursing homes in the county.

On Friday, the first resident at the Waterford Residential Care Centre to receive the Covid-19 vaccine was Phil Heenan from Poleberry. Phil received the vaccine from HSE/SECH vaccinator Lenora Fitzgerald. Meanwhile, Director of Nursing, Mary Veale was among the first staff to receive the vaccine.

Despite this positive news, this newspaper understands that Waterford Residential Care Centre is experiencing a high number of cases of Covid-19 among patients and staff on one ward. A number of healthcare workers are also believed to have been put up in Dooley’s Hotel due to the surge in cases.

In response, the HSE/South East Community Healthcare said in a statement that it, “does not comment on individual situations, in the interests of confidentiality for individuals concerned”. The statement added that, “The HSE’s Department of Public Health respond to notified cases or outbreaks of Covid-19. The Dept. of Public Health undertake a risk assessment of the situation, appropriate investigations are carried out and control measures put in place if required.”

In the past month, around 10 residents of Waterford nursing homes have passed away. However, it has not been established if many are related to Covid-19.

Therefore, the Waterford News and Star contacted each nursing home individually to establish case numbers, deaths and protocols.

A statement from the Waterford/ South Kilkenny Nursing homes said, “The rapid increase in Covid-19 across Ireland has impacted nursing homes and healthcare settings. This correlates with European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and public health experts warnings that an increase in Covid-19 within our communities would tally with positive cases increasing within our health settings.

“Covid-19 is a virulent virus that moves from communities into our hospitals, nursing homes and other congregated settings. It’s most profound effect is on residents in our nursing homes, who have underlying health conditions and high levels of frailty.”

The statement went on to say that the monitoring of Covid-19 cases, outbreaks and deaths within nursing homes and other community settings is collated by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

“In tandem with the rapid growth of the virus, positive cases have presented within some nursing homes in the county. Specific public health measures for positive Covid-19 cases are implemented and Co Waterford nursing homes are undertaking the necessary measures to manage the virus. Huge pressures are placed upon our health services at this very difficult time and nursing homes in Co Waterford and South Kilkenny are extremely grateful to local communities for continued support.

“We urge the people of Waterford to stay at home, wear a mask, hand sanitise and maintain social distance to protect our vulnerable residents in nursing homes. We would like to extend a huge thank you to the wonderful staff in the Waterford nursing homes who have worked tirelessly over the past 11 months.”

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