HSE confirms 21 people have died of Covid-19 in Dublin nursing home

Simon Harris sympathises with staff at St Mary’s Hospital in Phoenix Park during ‘traumatic’ time

A file image of St Mary’s Hospital in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.

A file image of St Mary’s Hospital in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.

 

Twenty-one people have died of Covid-19 in a single Dublin nursing home, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has confirmed.

St Mary’s Hospital, which has a total of 198 residential beds, is located in the Phoenix Park. Eleven people died of Covid-19 at the nursing home between April 2nd and 17th, and a further 10 deaths have since been confirmed.

“We offer our deepest sympathies to their family and friends and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time,” the HSE said in a statement.

Minister for Health Simon Harris on Saturday offered his sympathies to the families and friends of those who have died at St Mary’s and the staff at the home.

Speaking at the Department of Health on Saturday, Mr Harris said he could not imagine “how traumatic” it must be for staff working in an environment where so many residents have died in such a short space of time. He paid tribute to those continuing to work “against a backdrop of huge personal tragedy”.

“I know there are a lot of supports being looked at in relation to St Mary’s and gone into St Mary’s,” he told reporters at the Department of Health.

“I understand that the HSE has given this a lot of attention. I spoke to David Walsh yesterday, the national director for community services, in relation to the supports, I understand that’s included things like the redeployment of staff from other areas of the HSE.”

Additional staff

Dr Colm Henry, the HSE’s chief clinical officer, last week said that staff from acute hospitals may be redeployed to nursing homes.

“If the screening that is taking place now identifies additional staff having to go off as asymptomatic cases or contacts, we will have to look at redeploying more staff from acute hospitals,” he said.

Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) released a survey of members this week in which 96 per cent of respondents said they had not received any redeployed staff.

Mr Harris said that the issues being faced in publicly-run nursing homes, like St Mary’s, were “equally challenging” to those in the private sector.

“Most of the conversations we have about nursing home care tend to be about my interactions with the private representative body whereas what we’re actually seeing is it is equally challenging, if not even more so challenging for a number of the long term residential care facilities in public ownership,” he said.

“Again, I’m not commenting on an individual place but I suppose a lot of that could perhaps relate to the fact that people are in older buildings, sometimes people are in congregated settings.

Challenging

“It’s hard to slow the spread of this highly infectious virus...we’re seeing that, how challenging it is, and if you can imagine how much more challenging that is when you’re in an old building, an older facility with lots of vulnerable residents, vulnerable either by age or by health or by both.”

A number of residents and staff in St Mary’s Hospital have tested positive for Covid-19, the HSE said. It said various efforts are underway to tackle the outbreak of the disease within the care facility.

“Within St Mary’s Hospital an outbreak management team meet daily to manage the Covid-19 outbreak, where actions are agreed and implemented in the best interests of the residents. There is enhanced focus on infection control procedures, additional measures are put in place in this regard (and) an infection control team has visited St Mary’s Hospital and provides regular input.”