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Patient rushed to Dublin as Galway hospital’s MRI switched off

Dara Bradley

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A man who suffered a serious blow to the head after a fall was transferred to Dublin by ambulance because the MRI scanner at University Hospital Galway is turned off at weekends

The MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine that was needed to scan Corofin resident Trevor Martin is available at UHG – but it is only operational Monday to Friday and is not available weekends.

Mr Martin, who had been airlifted to UHG after falling, was subsequently transferred by ambulance to Beaumont Hospital in Dublin where he received the MRI scan in the early hours of a Sunday morning last month.

Two ambulance drivers, a doctor and nurse, accompanied Mr Martin to Beaumont where he received his MRI scan. A team of surgeons was also put on stand-by at Beaumont ‘just in case’.

It is estimated it could have cost €40,000 extra to have the scan in Dublin compared with UHG.

He was transferred back to UHG the following day, after getting the scan, and is now recovering from his injuries.

The scan found that Mr Martin suffered “serious contusions” when he fell and banged his head, neck and shoulders while out playing golf at a course in County Clare.

When he arrived by helicopter at UHG, a CAT scan and x-rays were carried out. It was decided that an MRI – a more specialised scan – was also needed.

Mr Martin’s wife, Yvonne, was told, however, that the MRI scan could be turned on at UHG but there wouldn’t be any staff available to read the results because it was the weekend. The incident occurred on the Saturday of August Bank Holiday, and so the MRI machine would not have been operational, they were told, until the following Tuesday.

“It is scandalous,” said Mr Martin. “This is a centre of excellence and it is the centre for trauma in the West of Ireland, yet the MRI machine, from what we can gather, is not available at weekends. He did say that they could get the machine turned on but that they wouldn’t be able to get anyone to read the results.”

“I’m not complaining about what happened to me. What happened to me was an accident. I’m just using it as an example – what happens if there is a pile-up on the motorway at the weekend and there is a need for MRI scans? It just doesn’t make sense to send people to Dublin.

“I reckon they spent between €35,000 and €40,000 just on me to get the MRI scan in Beaumont. The point I’m trying to make is for that amount of money, surely it would pay someone to be on stand-by in Galway at weekends to read the MRI scans.”

Read more in this week’s Connacht Sentinel

Connacht Tribune

Compliant Galwegians are keeping their distance

Francis Farragher

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Checkpoint...Garda warning for those who stray too far from home.

BOY racers, cyclists, gym users and young people attending house parties are among those in Galway who have been issued with Fixed Payment Notices (FPNs) for breaching the Covid-19 travel regulations over the past week.

However, Gardaí in Galway have reported ‘a very high-level of compliance’ from the general public as regards the travel restrictions that are a central part of the Level-5 ‘Stay Home – Stay Safe’ Covid campaign.

Over the weekend, Gardaí issued FPNs to so-called ‘boy racers’ in two separate cases on the Tuam Road outside Galway city and in the Craughwell area.

FPNs – involving a €100 on-the-spot fine – were also issued last week to a number of young people attending house parties in the Galway city area, after Gardaí had been called to the scene.

Two cyclists stopped in the Cornamona area of North Connemara last week, who were 19 kilometres from their homes – and outside their own county boundary – also faced Garda censure.

The cyclists weren’t from the same household; they weren’t wearing masks; and also, were in breach of social distancing regulations.

Gardaí also came across a case of a gym in South Galway being used by a number of people last week – also a breach of the Covid-19, Level-5 restrictions.

While Gardaí also received a number of calls about possible ‘pub-opening’ violations, on investigation, they found no sign of activity on the premises they checked out.

Galway Chief Garda Superintendent, Tom Curley, told the Connacht Tribune that overall, there was ‘a very high level of compliance’ as regards the travel restrictions which was ‘very encouraging’.

See full story – and comprehensive Covid-19 coverage – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Lessons learned on home-schooling

Denise McNamara

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Cathal Moore, principal of the Presentation Athenry.

Home-schooling is working better this time round with many teachers conducting live classes and more students actively engaging than when schools closed suddenly last March.

But virtual education is a poor substitute for the experience of the classroom with students sorely missing social interaction, according to teachers, while parents are still struggling to balance working from home with ensuring their children keep up with the school work.

The sooner that schools can reopen safely the better for everyone – although most agree that it’s looking more likely to be after mid-term than at the beginning of February.

“Everybody is in a better place this time round – schools, teachers, parents and students. Everybody expected to be back at school. It’s no secret last time we got two hours’ notice but this time round we’re better prepared,” remarks the principal of the Presentation Athenry, Cathal Moore.

The mixed secondary school is doing a mix of live and recorded classes as not every student has good broadband.

After the first week, there was feedback from students that they felt there was too much homework in addition to the virtual classes while teachers reported that they would prefer more live communication from their charges.

“It is more tiring – fatigue is definitely a factor when on a screen all day and if this goes on for a prolonged amount of time it will creep in for a growing number of students.”

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Hard-pressed hospitals down 450 staff over Covid

Dara Bradley

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More than 450 staff – including nurses at UHG and Portiuncula – are now out of work due to Covid, as staff shortages threaten the public hospitals’ ability to cope with the crisis.

The upsurge has seen UHG deal with a record number of Covid-19 patients, and the hospital had to escalate its surge capacity plan and add extra beds in ICU.

The latest CSO figures reveal that the first week of the New Year was Galway’s deadliest yet on the pandemic front, with five lives lost over those opening seven days of 2021.

That brought the total number of virus fatalities in Galway to 25, and it’s understood there have been further deaths locally since then, which will be confirmed later.

From March to the end of November there were 20 deaths notified in Galway, and no further deaths were recorded in all of December.

News of Galway’s deadliest week comes as local leaders in the HSE, Garda, and local government joined forces to warn that Covid-19 was still spreading rapidly in the community.

Nationally, between January 5 and 18, there were 263 Covid-19 deaths recorded, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC), which does not give a geographical breakdown. Of these deaths, 119 were hospitalised and 14 had been admitted to ICU.

The median age of all of Galway’s Covid fatalities is 83; the median age of the confirmed cases in Galway is 31 – the lowest of 26 counties.

See full story – and comprehensive Covid-19 coverage – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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