There are serious concerns that people who are sick and require hospitalisation may be avoiding hospital Emergency Departments due to Covid-19 anxiety – risking long-term but potentially preventable damage to their health.
That’s according to Saolta Hospital Group Clinical Director for Medicine, Dr Ramona McLoughlin, who told the Connacht Tribune that attendance to the ED at University Hospital Galway had dropped significantly in recent weeks.
“Our big worry is that people are not going to ED or to their GP because of coronavirus,” she explained.
Dr McLoughlin said that conditions such as MI (myocardial infarction or heart attack), stroke or kidney infection were not any less likely to occur now, in the midst of this global pandemic, than they were beforehand.
“This pandemic does not prevent any other diseases,” she stressed, adding that EDs nationwide had seen similar decreases in the number of people attending with common conditions that would still be occurring, despite the lockdown.
All necessary precautions had been taken at UHG to ensure that patients presenting to the ED with any symptoms indicating the presence of Covid-19 were kept separate from those with other illnesses, said Dr McLoughlin.
“We have put in pathways at the entrance to the ED – if you have [flu-like] symptoms, you go down one pathway; if you have a suspected MI, stroke or appendicitis, you go down a separate pathway,” she continued.
Daily presentations to the ED at UHG – the main acute hospital in the region – have been around 50 people for day; the norm was about 180 to 250 people per day, said Dr McLoughlin.
As talk turns to how the country will return to some semblance of normality in coming weeks, Dr McLoughlin said people had to prepare for a return to what would be a new normal – and this was particularly relevant for medicine.
“We have been really lucky in Ireland with how social distancing has helped.
“The death rate in Ireland is about half that in the UK, but the big worry is how we are going to get back to life with Covid-19 – it’s not going to be normal life,” she said.
While there were hopes that a vaccine will be available, it was at least 12 months away – a timeframe Dr McLoughlin called optimistic – and there was still a lot unknown about achieving immunity to this novel virus.
Other areas of healthcare have been impacted, with many elective surgeries cancelled; many clinics have been moved to virtual fora due to concerns over keeping people in waiting rooms; while the reluctance to attend GP surgeries or ED could result in delayed diagnosis, she said.
“With cancer, there is a whole range of concerns. If a patient doesn’t present with symptoms, that could delay diagnosis.
“Because we were preparing for a pandemic surge, we did reduce elective activity to free up space so that did reduce clinic activity and elective procedures. That could well have an impact on diagnosis.
“We can open back up those activities and utilise the Galway Clinic and Bon Secours so that procedures can be operated in a non-Covid hospital, as far as you can say that about anywhere,” she said.
For patients having chemotherapy for cancer, provision had been made to administer treatment in clinic rooms at UHG which provided better protection, given that they were immunosuppressed.
People presenting to the ED in psychiatric emergencies were also being taken straight to the new Adult Acute Mental Health Unit, said Dr McLoughlin.
She advised that people exercise their own judgement and to seek medical assistance when they needed it or, “they may end up with more serious difficulties”.
Locals in fundraising drive to protect some of Connemara’s finest beauty spots
The world-famous beaches Gurteen Bay and Dogs Bay will disappear unless work is carried out immediately to save them for the next generation.
A local conservation committee has been set up which is fundraising to carry out the work in September. They plan to remove the old fencing from the headland, which is dangerous for people and animals.
They will also want to install new fencing on the headland to keep animals off the sand dunes and to have clear access pathways to people to enjoy the dunes without causing them damage.
Sustainable chestnut fencing is then needed to re-establish the sand dunes and to save them from further collapse.
Finally the hope to replant marram grass to further stabalise the dunes.
Kieran Mullen, owner of the Gurteen Bay caravan and camping park, explained that the work was so urgent that they cannot wait another year to carry it out.
“Atlantic storms are becoming more frequent and powerful. If they find a weakness in the dunes a one metre gap is created. The next storm that widens to two and three metres and soon they’re gone forever,” he remarked.
“I know people might say I’m doing this because they’re part of my livelihood but these beaches are key to the bigger economy of Connemara. Everyone’s tied into tourism here – the shops, the builders. It only takes one influencer to post a picture on Instagram and the next week the place is packed.”
His father Pat, along with James Conneely and Joe Rafferty, undertook extensive projects such as planting marram grass, erecting fencing and stone gabions along one section of Dogs Bay beach back in the 1990s. They managed to protect and regenerate part of a highly degraded dune system.
“If it wasn’t for the huge amount of work they did back then, the beaches wouldn’t be here today. There was an Italian electrical company who came in and took away 50 tonnes of sand and my father stopped them at the gate and made them drop it off.
“They filmed Into The West here and the film donated some money to the beach and that’s how they paid for a lot of the work.”
The committee is meeting with planners to secure an exemption on planning for the work.
“Time is not on our side so that’s why we’ve gone ahead to raise the money and hope to get it done in September when the place is quieter.”
Both beaches, located outside Roundstone, regularly make the list of top 100 beaches of the world by travel guides.
To make a donation, visit GoFundMe page.
Galway passengers are all smiles at Shannon!
The smiles on the faces at Shannon Airport very much told its own story this week – with passengers taking to skies as the easing of restrictions and the first day of the European Digital COVID Certificates took effect.
And it wasn’t just the joy of travel starting to resume that lifted spirits at the airport but also the announcement by Ryanair of a new once-weekly service to Gran Canaria (Las Palmas) to commence on August 7 – the third new service announcement for Shannon Airport over recent weeks.
There was a real sense of excitement as passengers of all ages became very much at ease with the heightened public safety measures in a ‘back-to-the-future’ day for the West of Ireland gateway airport.
There were reunions as inbound flights arrived but also a palpable degree of anticipation as others got set to depart on the earliest flight out of the airport today, the 7:10am flight to Gatwick.
Among those boarding was Clarenbridge native Claire Tomlin and her husband Jake, together with their three children, including their twins who turn a year old next week.
“It’s been amazing to get back. The kids saw their grandparents for the first time and their cousins and aunties and uncles, so it was fantastic,” said Claire.
“Shannon is just so convenient for us because it’s only about 40 minutes’ drive. So, it just makes everything a lot easier in terms of getting to and from places with little ones. So, yeah, Shannon is a great resource for us. Really, really good. We hope to be able to go back more and more.”
It was smiles all around for Shannon Airport staff as they got back to doing what they do best. “Well, today is a great day because you can see the atmosphere around the place, people are at ease here and they’re glad to be back, they’re glad to get up in the sky again,” said Shannon Duty Free Sales Associate Helen Quinlivan.
“It’s great to see the excitement. People are really looking forward to going back and seeing their loved ones and they’re very at ease.”
Galway In Days Gone By
Silence is golden
Leaders on both sides have stated that the best assistance the country can give in the making of peace is to keep silence.
During the past week there has been a great deal of speculation, most of it harmless enough, as, for instance, the enterprising American journalist’s “exclusive” on the first meeting of the British Premier and the President of the Irish Republic; much of it positively mischievous, as the case of the efforts of a certain journal, which has grown hoary in the reputation for throwing in the apple of discord, to anticipate failure in advance.
Our American colleague was on surer and on safer ground when he told of how de Valera and Lloyd George met.
“Mr. Lloyd George,” he cabled, “was sitting at his desk when the Irish President entered. For just a minute these two gazed fixedly at one another. Then the British Premier walked across the intervening space and shook de Valera by the hand. He led him to a seat where they sat side by side. The atmosphere was tense. They faced one another. Then Lloyd George reached down for a box of cigars. But the Irish President is of Spartan mould. He neither permits himself to drink nor smoke. He politely but firmly waved the box away. Mr. Lloyd George, however, selected and lighted a Havana, and as the smoke curled upwards the atmosphere became decidedly easier!”
The wise and practical man always lays by a store against the time when supplies will be scarce. One of the most serious effects of the prolonged drought is the scarcity of supplies of fodder for cattle-feeding during the coming winter and spring.
The hay crop is not more than half the average yield. The corn crop is far below normal. Turnips in many districts are a partial failure. We have frequently emphasised the importance of growing catch-crops to supplement other feeding stuffs raised on the farm, but it is only under circumstances such as the present that their utility is brought home to farmers. Owing to the early harvest, a larger area than is usual can and should be put down this season. This would make good, to some extent, at least, the shortage of hay and other feeding-stuffs.
The demonstration plots laid down by the County Committee of Agriculture have shown that catch-crops, such as vetches and rye as well as other mixtures, can be successfully grown in all parts of County Galway.
We would urge on farmers the desirability – nay, the necessity – of procuring seed and making early preparation for the sowing of an increased area of catch-crops this season.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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