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Connacht Tribune

HIQA report recorded low staff take-up of ’flu jab

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Just over a third of staff at the two public hospitals in Galway City had taken the ‘flu jab, a rate far below the national uptake target.

The figure was revealed in the latest report from the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), which carried out an unannounced inspection of University Hospital Galway (UHG) and Merlin Park Hospital on August 22.

The inspectors focused on the prevention and control of transmission of superbugs and infections and decontamination facilities outside of designated controlled decontamination units.

The hospital has experienced an ongoing outbreak of the superbug CPE (Carbapenemase Producing Enterobacterales) since June 2017 and continued to screen in excess of the national HSE CPE screening guidelines. It had also had outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease in 2018.

Overall the two hospitals were given the thumbs up from HIQA. They both had “formalised governance arrangements with clear lines of accountability and responsibility around the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections”.

The report found the institutions were “committed to improving infection prevention and control practices in the hospital and were endeavouring to fully implement the National Standards for the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections in acute healthcare services”.

Inspectors praised their progress and compliance levels in relation to outbreak management, environmental hygiene on St Teresa’s Ward and the Haemodialysis Unit, despite infrastructural challenges, the antimicrobial stewardship programme and the on-going microbiological surveillance programmes.

However, some areas were identified which needed addressing. These included the ‘flu influenza vaccine uptake among healthcare workers, which at 35 per cent was far behind the national target of 60 per cent.

There also needed to be greater clarity among staff about the application of CPE screening guidelines.

The inspectors highlighted the need for greater compliance with mandatory hand hygiene training, more hygiene committee meetings, improvement in patient equipment hygiene and the storage of cleaning equipment.

The report outlined the need to improve the design and layout of St Teresa’s Ward and the central laundering facility.

Although a number of mitigating measures had been implemented at the hospital – including screening of patients in excess of the national HSE CPE screening guidelines – new cases of CPE continued to be identified.

Ongoing sampling of water and monitoring for Legionnaire’s Disease was ongoing at Merlin Park following the 2018 outbreak. “It was reported that the samples have shown a positive reduction in legionella counts which indicated that the remedial actions were working effectively.”

Among the more visible downfalls in hygiene standards were “unacceptable levels of dust and inappropriate storage of sterile supplies” observed in a room used to get in and out of changing and toilet facilities for patients.

This also meant that patients had unattended access to sterile supplies.

In St Teresa’s Ward extensive red staining was visible on the surface of several integrated sharps trays in the clinical room. Red staining was observed on two intravenous pumps.

“This was brought to the attention of the ward manager and was addressed immediately,” noted the report.

Outdates facilities at UHG continued to attract the criticism of HIQA, which pointed to the lack of single rooms to effectively isolate or segregate all patients with infections.

There were also insufficient numbers of showers and toilet facilities for patients.

“CPE contact patients were cohorted in a room without en suite facilities,” it was pointed out.

Connacht Tribune

Gardaí in Galway operating with fewer patrol cars

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Five large Garda stations in County Galway are operating with fewer Garda vehicles now than two years ago – leading to a call for the local fleet to be restored to 2020 levels.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has confirmed to Galway West TD Noel Grealish that the Garda fleet in the Galway Garda Division stands at 116 as of October of this year.

That’s greater than any of the years from 2012 to 2019, but it represents a reduction on the Garda fleet when compared with 2020 and 2021 figures.

Galway Gardaí had a dozen fewer vehicles this year, compared with 2020. There are 13 fewer patrol cars, down from 96 to 83; there was no change in the number of vans and motorcycles, and the division acquired one extra 4×4.

Garda stations in Ballinasloe, Loughrea, Tuam, Clifden and Salthill have all lost patrol cars in the past 24 months, according to the official figures.

Independent Deputy Grealish has demanded a restoration of the Garda fleet in Galway to 2020 levels.

“Gardaí have a demanding enough job to do, but it makes that important work even more difficult if they are not allocated the proper resources,” Deputy Grealish said.

“A reduction of twelve vehicles in less than two years across the Galway Division, down from 128 at the end of 2020 to 116 in October this year, is concerning.

“I have asked the Minister for Justice to explain why this has happened, that the number of vehicles in the Galway Division has fallen by ten per cent, when nationally the total fleet actually increased by 6%. I am demanding that they at the very least be restored to their 2020 levels,” he said.

Deputy Grealish pointed out that almost all areas of the county had suffered a reduction in Garda vehicles since the beginning of last year.  Ballinasloe currently has six vehicles, a reduction of two since the end of 2020; Clifden also has six, down one; Loughrea was down three to eleven; Salthill was down three to ten; the biggest reduction in Garda vehicles was in the Tuam area down five to twelve.

Galway City’s fleet increased by two vehicles, for a total of 71.

Minister McEntee said that the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was responsible for the administration and management of An Garda Síochána, including the purchase, allocation, and effective and efficient use of Garda vehicles.

“As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review to ensure their optimum use in light of identified operational needs and emerging crime trends,” she added.

Galway City Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) last month complained that the number of vehicles available to Gardaí in Salthill and Knocknacarra was insufficient.

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Connacht Tribune

Progress stalls on setting up Eating Disorder Community Health Team

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Despite an increasing number of young people experiencing eating disorders, a new specialist community team has yet to be set up in Galway well over a year after it was announced.

The delay is mainly due to a difficulty recruiting a consultant psychiatrist to lead the team, this week’s HSE West Regional Health Forum meeting was told.

Councillor John Connolly (FF) queried the progress on the new Eating Disorder Community Health Team within the Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) after the HSE revealed in September 2021 that it would be set up in response to the hike in youths presenting for treatment.

Chief Officer of HSE Community Healthcare West, Breda Crehan-Roche, said interviews had been conducted to recruit a clinical lead, but so far none had been appointed. Six other staff had been appointed and these had been assigned to existing teams within CAMHS while a psychiatrist could come on board to manage the team.

“We have difficulty getting locum cover. Interviews were held. It’s a priority. We are doing a running recruitment process,” she told this month’s meeting.

It took between six and nine months to appoint a person to such a senior post.

“There is a lot of work in specialist intervention in the eating disorders team.”

She admitted that there were no records of how much of an increase there had been in referrals to CAMHS Galway for youths troubled by an eating disorder as all records were on paper rather than on computer.

“I can’t ask clinicians and therapists to pull together manual figures,” she stated. But the indication from staff on the ground was that there had been a downward trend in referrals post-Covid.

There was a move to keeping digital records by the middle of next year.

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Connacht Tribune

Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan dies aged 78

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Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan has passed away at the age of 78.

Born in Kilkenny in 1944, Bishop Drennan studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth from where he was ordained in 1968

As a priest, the then Fr Drennan served as curate in both St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish in Kilkenny and then in Ballycallan.

From 1975 he taught Sacred Scripture at St. Kieran’s College, returning to Rome in 1980 to become Spiritual Director at the Irish College there for the next five years.

When Fr. Martin again returned home he became a Lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth where he continued to teach until his appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin in 1997.

Following the retirement of Bishop James McLoughlin, Bishop Drennan was chosen as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora and was installed on 3rd July 2005 in Galway Cathedral serving to his retirement in 2016.

A brief statement released by the Diocese of Galway this afternoon confirmed his passing and offered their sympathies to Bishop Drennan’s family and all those who mourn his loss.

Funeral arrangements for the late Bishop Drennan will be announced later

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