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HSE management across Cork today issued a message of thanks to the people of the country for their support of staff during the current crisis.

Management from Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, the South/South West Hospital Group, the Department of Public Health and the National Ambulance Service said the action of the people of Cork in recent weeks will save lives, and have given services in the county vital time to prepare.

An area Crisis Management Team with representatives of all HSE services has been meeting several times a week since early February to put in place extensive preparations for the impact of Covid-19 on services.

To date, these preparations have included:

  • Increasing bed capacity across the entire healthcare system by refurbishing and reopening buildings in order to provide ICU beds, acute beds, transitional and step-down care.
  • Putting in place arrangements to open self-isolation facilities should they be needed. We will update the public about these facilities shortly.
  • Establishing four testing centres across the region.
  • Supporting community response forums set up by local authorities.
  • Planning to provide community assessment hubs, which will begin to open next week. These facilities will allow members of the public with Covid-19 whose GP has determined they need a medical examination.
  • Working with private hospitals to increase bed capacity in the acute hospital system and ensuring critical services continue to be provided.

Most importantly, we are still providing vital services and we are still here for the people of Cork.

CEO of the South/South West Hospital Group Gerry O’Dwyer said:

“We thank and commend all our staff for their incredible efforts at this time. They have already gone above and beyond the call of duty as our health service faces extraordinary demands. I am immensely proud of all our staff as they rise to meet the unprecedented challenge posed by Covid-19. I want to thank all staff for the inspiring work being carried out in making advanced preparations. Every effort has been made prior to this virus arriving in Ireland to ensure that we would be as ready as we could be in the circumstances and in the best possible position to protect and safeguard public health.”

Mr O’Dwyer added:

We are working extremely hard to create additional capacity for the health system in the area in the coming weeks and days, and we will update the public as and when plans are confirmed.”

Chief Officer of Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, Ger Reaney, who chairs the HSE’s area crisis management team said:

“We have seen a huge redeployment of staff across our services, and our staff have risen to this challenge as they move to screening centres; from desk jobs back to ward duties; and increase their working hours where they can. Their efforts will help us to provide care for the people of Cork/Kerry.”

Mr Reaney added:

“We thank the people of Cork for their support at this time. That support takes many different forms, and it means so much to our hard-working staff. In particular, we want to thank everyone who has helped a healthcare work with childcare, as every extra hour that you can facilitate a staff member to work is a huge help.”

With visiting restrictions in place at all hospitals and residential centres, staff are doing everything possible to support patients and residents and to help them keep in contact with relatives and friends.

“We know that visiting restrictions are very difficult, and that some people have not been able to see their loved ones for many weeks now. Our staff are doing everything possible to make sure all patients and residents are kept safe and well,” Mr Reaney said.

Acting Director of Public Health Anne Sheahan thanked the people of Cork for adhering to guidelines and staying at home as much as possible.

“Staying at home will help us all to slow the spread of the virus, and that is giving us the opportunity to prepare all parts of the service.

We would like to remind you that when you leave your home for essential reasons, that you continue to keep two metres apart from anyone not in your household. Also, please maintain regular hand washing, regular cleaning of surface and always remember to catch your coughs and colds. It’s more important now than ever,” she said.

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