First coronavirus community assessment hubs to open this week
The HSE hope hubs will reduce the number of people being referred to acute hospitals
The HSE hopes community assessment hubs will assist patients who need assessment but who do not need immediate hospital care. Photograph: Getty Images
The HSE is on schedule to open the first of its community assessment hubs in Cork and Kerry this week to help cope with the growing number of people expected to need assessment for Covid 19 over the coming weeks.
The hubs will assist patients who need assessment but who do not need immediate hospital care to avoid referrals to acute hospitals where possible.
Cork Kerry Community Healthcare has announced plans to open four such community assessment hubs in Cork and one in Kerry in a bid to reduce referrals to acute hospitals in the region. The first of the five assessment hubs is expected to open later this week at the St Mary’s Health Campus in Gurranebraher on Cork’s Northside, while the remaining four are all expected to open next week.
Three of these remaining hubs are in Cork county, located at Bantry in West Cork, Ballincollig in Mid-Cork and Mallow in North Cork while the fifth hub will be located in Castleisland Primary Care Centre to serve Kerry.
“These assessment hubs are for patients who have or may have a confirmed diagnosis of Covid-19 when their GP decides they need a face-to-face clinical assessment,” said the HSE in a statement.
“Patients can only access these hubs when referred by their GP. Our aim in setting up the hubs is that anyone who needs a face-to-face clinical assessment can get one in the community, as quickly as possible.”
Once seen at the hub - which will be staffed mostly by GPs with support teams including nurses and physiotherapists - patients may either be asked to return home, to enter isolation or to attend an acute hospital.
According to the HSE, the hubs will be staffed mostly by GPs with the support teams of healthcare professionals including nurses and physiotherapists as well as administrative support personnel.
“We would like to pay tribute to the teams involved in getting these hubs set up and operational for their dedication to patient care. People are working extremely hard to get these hubs ready in a very short time,” said the HSE.
“Our focus in the coming days is to train and enable the staff who will be working in the hubs, and to ensure GPs are aware on how they will make referrals,” it added.
The five hubs will open seven days a week and the opening hours are expected to be from 8.30am to 7.30pm although this will depend on the level of referrals, said the HSE in its statement.
“Patients will only be seen by appointment. It is not possible to make appointments at the hub; this can only be done by your GP or by SouthDoc on Saturday and Sunday.”
Earlier this week the president of the Irish College of General Practitioners said maintaining social distancing will be “quite a challenge” at the 39 HSE-run community assessment hubs when they open. Cork GP Dr Mary Favier said that the supply of protective equipment for the GPs, nurses and administrative staff would be “critical” and a “minimum requirement”.
There will be 11 hubs opened in Dublin, and most of the hubs around the country are based in or next to existing primary care centres in the HSE network.