THE HSE has denied allegations that Covid, and non-Covid patients with dementia, shared accommodation during the height of the pandemic in the worst-hit hospital in West Cork.
An outbreak of the virus at Clonakilty Community Hospital resulted in the deaths of 10 residents there.
According to a report in The Irish Times, a concerned relative contacted the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) over concerns that ‘infection controls were not being followed.’ HIQA then wrote to the HSE over how residents were being accommodated at the hospital.
But this week the Cork Kerry Community Healthcare (CKCH) unit of the HSE said that the practice of ‘cohorting’ (separating Covid patients) was used in the hospital.
‘From the outset of the outbreak and from the confirmation of the first case on April 5th, a consultant geriatrician, a consultant in public health and the infection prevention and control team regularly visited Clonakilty Community Hospital to provide expert advice,’ said a CKCH spokesperson.
‘Their expert advice and guidance was followed at all times, and we are grateful for their support and guidance. Part of the management of the outbreak included cohorting. This process involves keeping residents with Covid-19, or suspected to have Covid-19, separate from other residents.’
Local TD Christopher O’Sullivan said that in relation to the separation of patients, this was a clinical decision and something he would not be qualified to comment on.
‘I constantly hear stories about the high level of quality care at Clonakilty Hospital and this was backed up by recent comments from consultant geriatrician Brian Carey,’ said Deputy O’Sullivan.
‘Thankfully the re-development of the hospital is still due to go ahead and my understanding is the works are going to tender shortly.’
Former Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly – who volunteered in the hospital during the Covid-19 crisis as a kitchen porter – declined to comment on the reports, saying it was a matter for the HSE.
Meanwhile, public visits to the private Care Choice Nursing Home in Macroom remain suspended after a staff member tested positive for Covid-19 on July 7th.
A spokesperson for Care Choice Macroom this week told The Southern Star that during routine weekly testing of their staff, one member of staff who was asymptomatic tested positive for Covid-19.
‘Our staff member is self-isolating and we understand that they are keeping well. While all other staff members and residents who were tested were negative for Covid-19, as a precaution, visiting was suspended.’
‘We are currently liaising with public health to arrange for its reinstatement and we continue to adhere to our usual high standard of care for our residents at all of our homes.’