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Records reveal that HSE sought the services of the Army and the Red Cross to fight against COVID-19

DUBLIN: Records show that during the lockdown, the HSE requested the services of the Army and the Red Cross to prevent the spread of the disease. Following the Covid-19, the situation in the nursing homes and other places became so serious that things got to the point of calling the army.

Various documents released by HSE describe the critical conditions faced by nursing homes due to staff shortages. Yet the appointment of nurses alone has not yet taken place.

At Dealgan House Nursing Home in Dundalk alone, 22 inmates died last April due to lack of care. It was a near-death situation in nursing homes due to the lack of adequate health workers to provide services. The nursing homes were faced with a shortage of staff, even to provide water.

It was reported at the time that there were 71 inmates in the nursing home who were experiencing complete dehydration. Officials at the private nursing home contacted the health minister and CMO Dr. Tony Holohan for help. It was in this context that they considered the need for Army and Red Cross services.

Patricia Whelehan, a HSE manager for older persons, emailed the HSE’s head of social care services, Mairead Lyons, and other managers. The main problem was that the external cleaning contractors were not willing to enter the corona virus positive units so that the necessary cleaning could not be done to prevent infection and control the disease. There were only 34 staff members in the nursing home where 104 staff were needed.

There was also a shortage of bins, hand gel and thermometer ear covers. The temperature of the infected person can be taken only once a day. Patricia Whelehan called for trained military support to prevent and control the infection. HSE had discussed the matter in a teleconference that day. The services of the Red Cross and Army staff were sought even then, but some problems blocked it.

On April 13, six inmates died here. The six were then transferred to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. One resident went to his own house. Of the remaining 71, 19 were suspected to be infected. Five were tested positive. Eight people are waiting for the test results. These matters were also reported to the HSE Manager of the Nursing Home.

The issue was resolved on April 17 when the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland hospital Group of Ireland took over. The group provided the necessary care until Covid came under control in May. After that, everyone left the nursing home.

Fine Gael TD for Louth Fergus O’Dowd was involved in the incident and described the tragic events here to the Oireachtas committee, which investigated the Covid problems of the nursing home.

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