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Top surgeon slams hospital over lack of beds for critically ill

Denise McNamara

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Professor Sherif Sultan: “There was no bed available, not enough

One of the country’s top vascular surgeons has lambasted the management of University Hospital Galway for failing to make enough staffed intensive care beds available for critically ill patients.

Professor Sherif Sultan was giving evidence at the inquest into the death of Joe Keane of Louisburg, Co Mayo, who died after being admitted for surgery for an abdominal aortic aneurysm or ballooning of the main blood artery.

After the initial consultation on March 7, 2014 in his outpatient clinic, Prof Sultan offered to admit the retired Mayo County Council worker immediately for surgery as a scan showed the aneurysm was at a critical size and at risk of rupture.

However, he suffered from an anxiety disorder and refused to be admitted. His wife managed to persuade him to agree to the surgery and the procedure was scheduled for March 25.

On that occasion the 67-year-old made it as far as the holding bay but when the patient before him ran into complications, his surgery was cancelled due to a lack of ICU (Intensive Care Unit) beds and nurses for post-operative care.

Two days later two emergencies took precedence leaving his procedure again delayed.

It took until June 16 for the surgery to be rescheduled due to the cancellation of elective procedures as well as a planned holiday by Mr Keane. When Prof Sultan eventually opened him up, there were signs of chronic infection.

The procedure to repair the wall which normally lasted 30 minutes took nearly 13 hours as the aortic walls had been turned to jelly by the bacteria E.coli and Citrobacter making it very difficult to attach the graft, he explained.

Under cross examination by John O’Donnell, barrister for the Keane family, Prof Sultan stressed that one of the things he could not control is the availability of beds.

“If you could see me go around to the general manager of the hospital . . . and have the door closed in my face. We are overstretched, underfunded and don’t have enough beds,” exclaimed the vascular consultant.

“I’m all the time on my phone for emergency cases. I operate all night to save my patients. I’m trying to fight for my patients – put more resources into the hospital, that’s the only way forward.”

Asked if the patient would have had a better outcome if operated on earlier, Prof Sultan said that was like looking into Pandora’s Box as there was no telling when he had developed the infection.

Mr Keane was given a triple dose of antibiotics to fight the bacteria but he died on July 24 last year.

The cause of death was pronounced as shock and haemorrhage due to abdominal aortic aneurysm following an attempted repair.

For more on this story, see the Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Residents call in the clampers to sort problem parking

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Residents in a Salthill estate have become tired of illegal parking outside their homes – and hired private clampers as a deterrent.

People living in Seamount off Threadneedle Road near Blackrock said they have been plagued by extra traffic and vehicles parking outside their homes, blocking access, during the latest Covid lockdown.

They said that since Galway City Council closed off the Prom to car parking, and closed the two public carparks, the cars have just migrated to Threadneedle Road and their estate.

Seamount is a private estate and the road has not been taken in charge by the Council. The residents have clubbed together and hired a clamping company, which will erect signs in the coming days and begin clamping illegally parked cars from next week.

Residents said they are also concerned that cars parked on Threadneedle Road are making it more difficult for buses to pass, and cause congestion.

A residents’ spokesperson said: “Since the lockdown, they closed off the Prom and closed off Salthill car park but people are still using the Prom and swimming off Blackrock. I have huge admiration for the swimmers, I do it myself when it’s warmer. But what’s happening is they park on both sides of Threadneedle Road, because there’re no yellow lines on either side of it and it’s not wide enough for cars to be parked either side of it, so buses are getting stuck.”
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

NUIG President’s upset at Covid breaches on campus

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – “I work in the hospital and we have had a really awful six weeks. We have nowhere to sit down and have our breaks. We are exhausted and would long to see family and friends. To see public health guidelines [being flouted] on NUIG property is a kick in the teeth.”

These are the words of an angry and frustrated healthcare worker at University Hospital Galway in a message sent to the head of NUIG.

President Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh told students and staff at the university this week that he found it “deeply frustrating” that some students were flouting public health guidelines.

The HSE has confirmed that there were at least 441 cases of Covid in the city’s 18-24 age group – which has affected 224 households – in the past three weeks.

“Our neighbours contacted me expressing their upset at what they see as activities by our students that do not respect the health and safety of the community at large. People who work in the health service, people who have lost friends and relations to Covid-19. I share their upset.

“I was struck, for example, by one particularly heartfelt message from a local healthcare worker and campus user who shared their frustration with me last week on seeing groups congregating and socialising on campus grounds and which they agreed we could share,” Prof Ó hÓgartaigh said.

The head of the university shared the message in an email to students and staff this week, adding that students had expressed frustration that study spaces were not open on campus and at the challenges posed by the constricted spaces in which they study.

NUIG confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it had imposed sanctions on a number of students in relation to Covid breaches, while there have been none at GMIT.
This is a brief preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Principals band together for safer cycling infrastructure

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A total of 28 Galway City school principals have signed an open letter to the Minister for Transport and local councillors highlighting the need for safer cycling infrastructure around schools, to encourage students and staff to switch to bikes.

The push by Government to cycle or walk where possible during the pandemic has its limitations in a city where cycle lanes are rare and parents are too afraid to let their children cycle on narrow roads often choked with traffic.

A group of cycling enthusiasts in city schools has been campaigning to encourage the school community to engage with Galway City Council’s public consultation process for the next development plan which will have a key role in deciding whether cycling lanes or off-road cycle routes become a reality.

The first stage of the initial consultation process for the ‘City Development Plan 2023-2029, Your City, Your Future’ closes today (Friday). But the process will continue for two more years with more consultation encouraged once the draft plan is published.

This week a letter from 28 principals sent to councillors called for support for the provision of better cycle infrastructure in and around all schools. It has also been sent to Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and Galway West TD and Minister of State at Cabinet, Hildegarde Naughton.

“It is our view that existing road infrastructure around schools can be unsafe for children, teachers, and families who wish to cycle to school and we would like to encourage the development safe cycling routes in the future,” the letter states.

Principal of Coláiste na Coiribe, Eoghan Ó Ceallaigh, said it was important for the school community to get involved with the public consultation.

(Photo: Last year, the Council introduced a ‘School Streets’ pilot scheme at Scoil Iognáid, which bans cans during certain times, encouraging parents and children to walk or cycle. Schools now want proper cycling infrastructure put in place).
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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