25 Sept 2022

Hospital defends giving ear plugs and eye masks to patients left on trolleys

Cllr Seamus Morris says measure an ‘acceptance of worsening situation’

Hospital defends giving ear plugs and eye masks to patients left on trolleys

Cllr Seamus Morris: critical of hospital decision to give ear plugs and eye masks to patients on trolleys

University Hospital Limerick, which serves patients from North Tipperary, has defended its practice of handing out ear plugs and eye masks to patients on trolleys after the issue was raised by Cllr Seamus Morris.

The Nenagh-based councillor criticised the practice as “acceptance of the consistently worsening trolley situation”.

He said that handing out the accessories was to allow patients some modicum of comfort in their long stay while waiting for a bed in the “great hospital bed lottery”.

“I was speaking to a son of an elderly lady last week who spent five days on a trolley in Limerick and then transferred to a trolley in Nenagh for another 24 hours before she ‘won’ a bed,” he aid.

Cllr Morris said that the woman had been “traumatised” by her experience.

Since the closure of Nenagh and Ennis 24 hour A&E services all of our serving TDs in North Tipperary had ignored the plight of their long-suffering constituents who have suffered horrendous conditions in the University Hospital Limerick, said Cllr Morris.

He said that any sportsperson who had a choice were avoiding diagnosis in Nenagh Hospital or UHL and seeking out expensive alternatives.

“As we roll into the local elections I am calling for all candidates in the Nenagh Municipal area to debate the state of our health services with me,” he said.

However, a spokesperson for University Hospital Limerick said in a statement that staff work to minimise the impact of any noise or light on our patients at night and the lights were dimmed or switched off where it was possible to do so.

Certain areas of the department remain brightly lit at night as it was necessary for observation and assessment, they said.

“Our nursing staff and PALS (Patient Advocacy Liaison Service) volunteers offer ear plugs, eye masks and additional blankets as a comfort measure for patients who are waiting on a trolley overnight. This assists our patients in getting to sleep,” they said.

The hospital said that the initiative was based on feedback from a patient who took the time to give her views on improving the trolley wait.

In addition, personal care packs (sanitary/hygiene) are made available to patients who need them, the hospital said.

They said that UHL was one of the busiest in the country and the numbers presenting had continued to increase year on year.

This, combined with insufficient beds for the needs of the Mid West, can lead to high numbers of patients waiting to be admitted. they said.

“UL Hospitals Group sincerely regrets that any patient has to face long waits in our ED during busy periods and any distress or inconvenience this causes to patients and their loved ones.

The ED at UHL has designated spaces for 49 patients and admitted patients waiting for a bed are often in single rooms or designated bays, including isolation rooms for appropriate infection prevention and control,” they said.

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