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Portiuncula under pressure from Roscommon closure

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The fall-out from the closure of the Emergency Department (ED) at Roscommon Hospital continues to adversely impact on patients at Portiuncula Hospital, which again this week suffered from chronic overcrowding.

Presentations at the Ballinasloe ED have spiked since the closure of Roscommon ED in 2011 but the problem has reached crisis point again with some 18 patients reported on trolleys one day this week.

Portiuncula ED was designed to allow just six trolleys but it had to cater for three times that amount on Monday prompting the hospital to issue a statement warning patients off presenting to ED unless it was an emergency.

“Presentations at Portiuncula Hospital have increased by between 30% and 40% since Roscommon Hospital Emergency Department was closed in August, 2011,” said Independent TD, Denis Naughten, who resigned for Fine Gael over the issue.

He explained Portiuncula ED was built before Roscommon closed, and it doesn’t physically have the space to cope.

“Staff at Portiuncula, privately will tell you that prior to the closure of Roscommon, there was never a problem with overcrowding at Portiuncula Emergency Department. They were proud of that record. But every year since 2011 there has been overcrowding. Twice in the past month they have been forced to go public and issue warnings,” he said.

Deputy Naughten said another consequence of the closure of Roscommon was that the age-profile of patients presenting at Portiuncula ED was older, meaning they were staying longer at Ballinasloe, and this had a knock-on effect on the ‘turnaround’ of patient discharge.

He said in order to alleviate the problem, there needed to be direct access to the Medical Assessment Unit at Roscommon, which currently operates on a GP-referrals basis only.

Another option to alleviate overcrowding is investment in primary health care in the community. He said that some 57% of cases of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, which relates to breathing, presenting at ED could be cared for in the community.

In its plea to the public this week the hospital said its ED was “very busy” on Monday and it appealed to the public “to keep the Emergency Department for emergencies and to contact their GP or GP Out of Hours services where possible.”

It said it was “working strenuously to ensure access to beds”.

“Portiuncula Hospital apologies to all patients and their families for any distress caused as a result of the delays and acknowledges the hard work, commitment and dedication of all staff at this time,” it said.

Patients near Roscommon Hospital were asked to use the hospital’s Minor Injuries Unit in the Urgent Care Centre every day, including weekends, from 8am to 8pm. The unit treats all minor injuries in adults, and in children of 5 years and over, including suspected broken bones (from knees to toes and from collar bone to finger tips); sprains and strains; facial injuries; minor burns and scalds; minor chest and head injuries; and wounds, bites, cuts, grazes and scalp lacerations.

Patients in the Minor Injuries Unit in Roscommon Hospital wait on average less than an hour in the department from registration at reception to discharge. The charges are the same as for presentations at Emergency Departments, which means that there is no charge for medical cardholders or for patients with a valid medical/GP referral letter.

CITY TRIBUNE

Publicans in antigen plea to Government

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Johnny Duggan of the Vintners Association: Antigen tests could help minimise restrictions at times when Covid is circulating widely.

Galway publicans are pleading with Government to pilot an antigen test scheme in the city in January – a move that could rescue the local hospitality sector.

Galway City Vintners have proposed the introduction of a pilot scheme in city centre pubs in January, which if successful, could allow the sector to re-open with minimum restrictions, even when the Covid-19 is rampant.

Government Ministers and the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) are divided on the efficacy of antigen tests, which give rapid results that are less reliable than PCR tests.

But publicans believe asking customers to produce a negative antigen test result – as well as their Covid-19 certificates – to get served in pubs, this could help save the hospitality sector by reducing the need for social distancing inside venues.

They don’t believe it would be necessary all-year-round, but could be useful in keeping hospitality open with minimum restrictions during weeks when Covid is circulating widely in the community.

They said it would allow the safe return of drinking at bar counters, dancing in venues, and extended opening hours. Currently pubs, even late bars, must close at 11.3pm instead of 2.30am.

Galway City Vintners expect Covid will continue in waves and this proposal is an attempt to be proactive to keep their businesses, the sector – and socialising in pubs – afloat, according to spokesman Johnny Duggan.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Rehearsals in full swing for pantos at Town Hall and An Taibhdhearc

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Jeacaí agus an Fathach Mór Dána’ will be performed at An Taibhdhearc.Photo: Boyd Challenger.

Galway’s two pantomimes are still forging full steam ahead amid advice for parents to limit children socialising indoors as Covid infection rates among unvaccinated youths continue to soar.

A concert featuring Julie Feeney and Ultan Conlon at the Town Hall Theatre planned for last night as well as gigs with comedian Eilish O’Carroll and folk singer Seán Keane have been deferred to March due to sluggish sales following a plea by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to limit social contacts.

Manager Fergal McGrath said sales up until a fortnight ago were very healthy and they have been very happy with the success of gigs with Billy Bragg, the Villagers and Kojaque in November with near full capacity and without incident.

“We’ve had some people cancel but nowhere near the figure in other venues,” he remarked.

“We relaxed our refunds policy and have maintained a very strict adherence to the guidelines checking vaccination certs, IDs, having space out queues and insisting that people wear masks. We closed the bar in the Town Hall as there wasn’t enough space to accommodate all patrons. In the Black Box, we operated a click and collect system and erected a marquee outside for people to drink.

“We have very receptive audiences, there is an absolute willingness to wear the masks that a year ago may not have been accepted. People were thanking us in the Black Box for still being able to get out. A member of the advisory team for NEPHET was at one of the shows and was very impressed with how we managed everything. It’s not been an easy few months, but we’ve figured out how to get through this and implement all the guidelines.”

Cinderella, this year’s Renmore Pantomime, is still expected to be staged from December 29 to January 9. The Town Hall made an early decision to reduce capacity to 60 per cent, which has proved fateful as around that level of tickets have now been sold.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Sweeping changes on way to fight congestion

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Traffic on the Headford Road approaching the junction close to Galway Shopping Centre.

A parking levy on workers; reduced public parking in the city centre; an end to additional road infrastructure; and reduced speed limits are all part of a new government plan to tackle congestion in the city.

In the Departments of Transport’s Demand Management Strategy, sweeping measures are proposed to reduce the number of cars on city roads – caveated with a warning that proper alternatives are required before significant changes are implemented.

Among the measures proposed is a levy on workplace parking spaces – a move the report suggests would cut by 5% the number of cars on Galway roads.

It is outlined that Nottingham was the first European city to introduce such a measure and proposes that a similar approach should be taken here whereby all monies raised by the levy are invested into public transport improvements.

The levy, it is claimed, would influence decisions to travel by car; reduce the space taken up by parked cars; and reduce costly parking infrastructure in new developments.

An attempted move towards this in 2008, which levied employers €200 for workplace parking spaces was fiercely resisted and ultimately collapsed.

However, the report concludes that it merits consideration – particularly for Galway where it deduces that congestion charges are not appropriate.

Elsewhere in the report, it is proposed that an up to 300% increase in the cost of on-street parking, in conjunction with an up to 50% cull of the space used for stationary cars, could result in a further reduction in congestion.

This measure, which is identified as a ‘relatively high priority’ for Galway, should form part of an overall strategy to remove on-street public parking spaces, including some residential parking permits, it states.

The report could spell bad news for the Government attitude towards funding the Galway City Ring Road –  on which an Bord Pleanála is due to give its decision by the end of this month.

The findings include an assertion that additional road infrastructure does not solve the issue of congestion – it could actually worsen the situation.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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