SWAH at full capacity as winter pressures hit hard

THE SOUTH West Acute Hospital is currently operating at full capacity, with patients currently having to wait to be admitted, however only a small percentage of its inpatients are being treated for Covid. 
At the time of gong to print on Tuesday there were currently 20 Covid patients at SWAH, none of whom were being treated in its intensive care unit (ICU). 
The number of ‘Covid occupied’ beds accounted for a total of 11.31 percent of the hospital’s capacity. Meanwhile, 77.98 percent of hospital’s beds were ‘other occupied’. The Department of Health’s dashboard showed the number of patients awaiting admission to SWAH yesterday accounted for 10.71 percent of its occupancy. 
Geraldine McKay, director of acute services at the Western Trust, told the Herald the hospital faces winter pressures every year even in normal circumstances, and the pandemic adding to the problem. She apologised to anyone experiencing long delays. 
“Over the past number of years, the level of complex and serious conditions, particularly amongst the growing frail and elderly population, the prevalence of flu and other respiratory conditions at this time of year, and the challenges of helping patients to return home after a hospital stay does mean that our hospitals can run at a higher level of occupancy,” said Ms McKay. 
“This, coupled with managing the surge in Covid-19 cases, does mean that our hospitals are currently running beyond funded bed capacity. This may result in people waiting much longer in our Emergency Departments than we would like before being admitted.”

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