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As the winter storm system continues to wreak havoc across the country, health care professionals across the city are struggling to find the best way to deal with the surge of patients who are rushing to their emergency departments due to the weather.
While the numbers of emergency hospital admissions in Dublin are still at a historic low, a further 4,500 people are now in emergency departments as a result of the storm, according to figures from the Office of the Health Minister.
Dr Frances Fitzgerald has been dealing with the situation for over a year, and has been forced to adjust the emergency departments at the two busiest hospitals in Dublin, the Queen of Wales Hospital and St Stephen’s Green Hospital.
“It’s been a very difficult time,” she told The Irish Sun.
Dr Fitzgerald said there were no easy answers, but she believes that if the weather had been a bit better the first thing that could have been done would have been to close all the emergency rooms.”
It’s an incredibly busy period.”
Dr Fitzgerald said there were no easy answers, but she believes that if the weather had been a bit better the first thing that could have been done would have been to close all the emergency rooms.
She also suggested that if there were more patients in the city that they should be encouraged to get into hospital first to help treat the acute problems, rather than waiting in the emergency department.
“The problem is that it is just not possible to have the resources to deal in a crisis like this,” she said.
“You don’t have the staff, the facilities, the staffing, and so on, to handle this.”
In addition to the fact that the emergency room at St Stephen, which is the busiest in the country with a capacity of more than 1,000 patients a day, has been closed, the two other hospitals on the city’s eastside, the Princess Alexandra Hospital and the Queen Mary, are facing a further round of closures.
Dr Fitzgerald has called on all health professionals in the capital to get in touch with their local NHS managers to try and ensure that the other hospitals are able to cope with the storm.
The situation at the other two hospitals has become even more acute as many people who have been unable to get to their primary care doctor are now being brought in by ambulance.
There is also the issue of the cost of operating theatres, which are already at capacity and are being forced to close due to poor visibility.
“If we can’t have a proper emergency department that is staffed and able to operate theatres properly, we’re not going to be able to run any other hospitals,” Dr Fitzgerald said.
The National Health Service (NHS) has also been facing difficulties in dealing with emergency situations, with more than 7,000 people needing to be admitted to the hospital.
The Dublin District Health Board (DCHAB) is currently looking into the issue and is trying to find ways to help alleviate some of the pressure on the emergency services.
The DCHAB is also looking at whether to allow some of its patients to travel with their primary health care provider (PHC), to help them manage the strain that has been placed on their health care.
The department also is considering whether to make the use of emergency room beds available to other health professionals who may not have access to the same facilities.