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Top surgeon slams hospital over lack of beds for critically ill



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.


Galway City Council to ‘review’ Kirwan junction



Councillors are demanding proof that the €5 million spent to transform Kirwan Roundabout into a signalised junction was money well spent – blasting the new junction as having created long delays and worsening rat-running.

A meeting of the local authority last week heard that while there was a general acceptance there would be ‘teething problems’ with the traffic-light junction after it became operational in July, ongoing issues were continuing to draw the ire of road users and local residents.

Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind) said he was one of five councillors on the previous Council to initially vote against the removal of the roundabout, based on fears that it would increase traffic through local residential areas – a fear that had been realised.

“What changes have been needed to be done since it went live,” asked the former Mayor, indicating that there had been little improvement.

Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF) said he understood that enhancement works were being done, but more were required.

“A lot of drivers are avoiding it and its driving traffic through the likes of Terryland Business Park. The Tuam Road is now gridlocked,” he said, calling on the Council to do a “PR exercise” to encourage drivers back to Kirwan.

Cllr Clodagh Higgins (FG) said the junction continued to confuse people and suggested that “overhead hanging signs” would be of assistance.

Green Party Councillor Niall Murphy said when the roundabout was slated for removal, it was promised that delays would be reduced by 25% and rat-running by 90% – but as yet, no evidence had been provided to show this.

“We need to put some science on this.

“The rat-running has moved to Dyke Road and there are some sections of that road where there are no footpaths, so it is quite dangerous for pedestrians,” said Cllr Murphy.

Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the meeting he believed there was a silent majority that were satisfied with the new junction.

He said that the junction’s ‘go live’ date was July 19, which coincided with the reopening of many parts of society that had been in lockdown due to Covid, and that had contributed to additional traffic.

“The first two objectives were to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety, and those objectives have been achieved.

“There will be a post project review – that is something that we always do and I would be happy to bring that back to Council for its consideration,” said Mr Finn.

Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath confirmed that review was set to get underway.

“It will go through the various elements and if issues arise following the review, they will be addressed,” he said.

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Thieves target cars as owners unload shopping bags



Galway shoppers have been advised by Gardaí not to leave their vehicles unlocked or unattended as they bring their shopping into their homes.

This follows reports in the Newcastle area of opportunist thieves ‘striking’ as the shopping bags were being moved into houses.

One resident told the Galway City Tribune that the thieves waited until the person had taken a bag of shopping from their cars to bring into their home.

“This gives the thieves a minute or two to have a quick look in the car – what they seem to be looking for are purses, bags or wallets that are left behind in the car,” the resident stated.

He added that some of local residents had notices two ‘youngish lads’ – possibly in their late teens or early 20s – hanging around the Newcastle Park Road area over the past week or two.

“I just think that people need to be on their guard for this kind of opportunist theft. They just wait until the driver goes inside the house with the shopping and before they come back out, they do a quick search of the car,” he said.

Galway Garda Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that opportunist thieves would always be ‘on the look out for a handy theft’.

“What I would advise is that either have someone to keep an eye on the car when the shopping is being removed – or else lock the car each time, and don’t leave any cash or valuables in the vehicle.

“It might be an inconvenience to lock the car each time you go back into the house, but it is still far better than having something stolen from your vehicle,” said Sgt Walsh.

He also urged, that as a matter of routine, no one should leave any valuables in their cars when they parked them up.

“Even the coins that some people keep in car pockets for parking or other small payments can attract thieves. Never leave anything of value in your vehicles,” he said.

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Connacht Tribune

Boil water notice issued for Barna area



A boil water notice has been issued for the Barna area for health protection purposes

The areas affected are Barna Village, Truskey West and Truskey East, Barr Aille, Fermoyle, Ballard and along the Connemara Coast Road as far as Furbo, and on the Barna/Galway Road as far as Silverstrand.

The notice has been put in place due to issues with disinfection of the water at Tonabruckey Reservoir.

The notice affects approximately 2,300 people supplied by the Barna section of the Galway City West Public Water Supply area.

Customers in the area served by Tonabrucky Reservoir will notice increased levels of chlorine in their water supply in the coming days as we work to resolve the issue.

Vulnerable customers who have registered with Irish Water will receive direct communication on this Boil Water Notice.

Irish water, the City Council and the HSE will monitor the supply and will lift the notice when it is safe to do so.

In line with HSE Covid-19 advice and the requirement for frequent hand washing, Irish Water advises that the water remains suitable for this purpose and boiling the water is not required.

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