Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda has made the headlines this week, but unfortunately not for positive reasons. The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation’s daily trolley watch figures indicated that the hospital had the highest number of patients on trolleys in Ireland for 3 days in a row this week. On Monday, there were forty one people on trolleys in the Lourdes, while Beaumont Hospital in Dublin had the second highest at twenty nine. While there were three hundred and ninety three people waiting on trolleys or on admission to wards across the country. On Tuesday, that figure rose again and the INMO said there were fifty people were being treated on trolleys at Our Lady of Lourdes hospital. The organisation said that five hundred and thirty people were waiting for beds across the country. Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the problem seemed to escalate.
The INMO said management at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda had failed to deliver on commitments to tackle overcrowding and the issue was discussed at the LRC that afternoon. The Organisation said the Emergency Department was one of the most overcrowded in the country, with some elderly patients spending 4 or 5 days on trolleys.
On Wednesday the trolley watch figures showed that there were forty two people on trolleys at the hospital, again the highest figure in the country. Last November it was agreed that more beds would be opened and as a result industrial action at the hospital was deferred. But the INMO’s Industrial Relations Officer Tony Fitzpatrick said hospital management has failed to deliver on those commitments. Wednesday’s meeting at the LRC resulted in some good news with management at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda agreeing to increase the number of nurses and make more beds available, to alleviate overcrowding in the ED. The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation recommended acceptance of the proposals. Mr Fitzpatrick said the agreement showed a commitment to address the crisis.
On Tuesday afternoon another revelation at the Lourdes was met with anger among members of the public. An internal HSE audit found that twenty one breech babies went undiagnosed over a two-year period at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, including one case in which a baby died. The audit was prompted by the baby’s death in 2013 and two further complaints last year.
In a statement, the HSE said that undiagnosed breeches at the hospital had fallen significantly since the audit’s recommendations were put in place and that the review’s recommendations related to the length of time involved in getting emergency cases to surgery. A full scale audit was triggered after the hospital received two more complaints last year in which parents complained that their babies’ breech position was missed. The hospital’s risk management committee conducted a retrospective two year audit of all births, which identified twenty one cases of undiagnosed breeches before labor started. On Wednesday, a senior HSE official insisted that Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda is at the forefront of maternity care in Ireland. Dr Alan Finan was responding to a report showing thirteen “significant incidents”, where a breech birth was diagnosed in advanced labor, which happened there between May 2012 and June 2014. On Tuesday, I took to the streets of Drogheda to get reaction from the locals. The Majority of people I spoke to didn’t seem to have anything positive to say.
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