There are 30 patients waiting on trolleys and wards at St Luke's General Hospital in Kilkenny today, according to INMO figures.
While the number is ten fewer than yesterday, it is still unusually high for this time of year. It means Kilkenny has the joint second-highest figure for people on wards and trolleys in the country.
A statement from the Ireland East Hospital Group on Wednesday apologised for the situation, and said that hospital staff and management were working towards accommodating all patients appropriately. It attributed the problem to a high attendance at the Emergency Department, as well as the closure of a 29-bed ward for maintenance and refurbishment - to comply with standards for infection prevention and control.
This work is expected to take until the end of September 30. As a result, 14 refurbished beds have been opened in a former gynaecological ward to offset the impact of the closed ward.
The works being carried out and the future planned works directly relate to the implementation of HIQA standards for prevention of 'healthcare associated infections'. The hospital management have submitted plans to IEHG for the replacement of 75 inpatient beds to enable full compliance with single room and isolation room standards.
Year on year, the number of emergency presentations to St Luke’s has increased. Similarly, the number of emergency medical admissions increased by 6.8% during 2016, however the actual inpatient bed capacity had not increased until the opening of the aforementioned 14 beds this month.
The GEMS project which commenced in early 2017, will also assist in preventing admission and fast track services for people over 75 years, thus reducing their overall length of stay in hospital while freeing up beds more quickly for emergency admissions.
The HSE says the hospital is also looking forward to the reopening of the 18 beds in Carlow District Hospital (CHO5) which were decommissioned prior to winter 2016/2017. This will also provide essential bed capacity for patients who require step down care from St Luke’s during the coming winter.