Dr Des Fitzgerald, President of the University of Limerick. Photo: Cian Reinhardt UL Field Hospital
University of Limerick is likely to become a Covid-19 Field Hospital in the continued battle against the virus
This week there have been talks surrounding the possibility that the University of Limerick will host a field hospital on its campus in Castletroy, in the event that health services become overwhelmed and require expansion.
With the growing Covid-19 crisis putting major pressure on Ireland’s healthcare system and staff, measures such as this are being taken to ensure that Ireland will have the means to deal with this pandemic head-on.
The President of UL, Des Fitzgerald, has said that the college is likely to be closed until mid-June at the earliest, so, in the meantime, the campus can aid in the assistance of healthcare services. In the event of the UL Field Hospital being established, it will be a major facility in the fight against the Coronavirus.
President Fitzgerald, who studied as a cardiologist and is a former chief academic officer at the Ireland East Hospital Group said, “We are currently working with the HSE to develop more sophisticated systems of contact tracing, with the inclusion of testing. This is further to the change in testing criteria in recent days.”
The UL President urged people to take personal responsibility and action to help slow down the spread of the virus, and in turn, save lives.
“What you do now will have an impact long into the future. We owe it to the sisters, daughters, husbands, wives, brothers and sons, mothers and fathers placing themselves in the way of this virus that is already spreading through our community.”
“These are extraordinary times. We are facing the single biggest health crisis in living memory,” he said. “I am deeply concerned that people are not fully realising the severity of the situation and so are not changing their behaviour quickly enough.”
He praised the work of the frontline healthcare staff, saying, “Those that are dealing directly with this crisis don’t have the luxury to self-isolate and reduce their personal contact – we owe it to those at the coalface to do everything we can to buy them enough time to deal with this crisis.”
“We have a small window of time right now where we can really have an influence over how bad this gets. We still have a chance to flatten out the curve of this deadly virus and help to interrupt its march but we need to act now, today, this morning.”
Cork Institute of Technology has also received requests from the health authorities in relation to their facilities and skilled staff members who may be suitable for urgently needed roles in the health sphere.
In a statement to ‘The Echo’, a spokesperson for CIT said, “CIT has had requests for suitably qualified laboratory and other health staff. We are advising staff that they may volunteer for such duty and that we will support them in terms of pay, HR, etc.”
In a further bid to strengthen the country’s healthcare system, some universities have moved final examinations forward for final year medical students, so they can begin working in hospitals as soon as possible.
The examinations which were to be held towards the end of April have been taking place over recent days at NUI Galway and the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland. This move will avoid delays in the graduation of the final year classes, who are needed now more than ever to help fight this virus.
An RCSI spokesperson said, “This exam is a mandatory requirement for final year students to be awarded their medical degree at the end of May. The exam has been brought forward in order to ensure that there is no delay in the graduation of the Class of 2020 because of any restrictions that could be put in place as a response to Covid-19.”
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