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Cappagh Hospital CEO outlines major social distancing challenges

The “aging and augmented” infrastructure at National Orthopaedic Hospital Cappagh (NOHC) is “not conducive to social distancing practices” and addressing this will impact bed capacity and waiting lists, its CEO has warned. Writing in the Medical Independent about the hospital’s rapid transition into a trauma centre as part of the national Covid-19 response, Ms Angela Lee warned of the challenges ahead in the context of returning to elective orthopaedic surgery.

“As we consider returning to elective orthopaedic surgery, while aiming to limit the occurrence of a second wave, NOHC faces many challenges. In particular, the hospital’s ageing and augmented infrastructure is not conducive to social distancing practices,” wrote Ms Lee.

“To comply with the national guidelines and recommendations, we are considering the reconfiguration and compartmentalisation of wards, clinics, and common areas, which unfortunately will result in a reduction in bed capacity,” she added.

“Ultimately, capital investment in new infrastructure is crucial to future-proof operational efficacy, utilise resources to optimum capacity, and meet growing demand for services. We recognise that an inevitable reduction in capacity for inpatient and outpatient cohorts will impact waiting lists, quality-of-life, and long-term patient outcomes. This is unfortunate, as we successfully introduced several initiatives in the past two years, which significantly reduced waiting times.

“As part of our continued commitment to patients, we will explore extended hours and days of operation, new ways of working and virtual consultations, where appropriate, to enable timely access to diagnosis, treatment, and care.”

However, she noted that NOHC’s move to trauma delivery was an example of how an organisation can adapt at pace amid such a crisis.

“A spirit of collaboration and camaraderie underpinned this transition and we continue to overcome challenges, embracing new recommendations and learnings daily, to improve the quality-of-care.”

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