Dealgan House lost 60% of staff to illness or isolation at height of Covid-19 outbreak

Dealgan House Nursing Home in Dundalk lost 60% of its staff to either illness or isolation at the height of the Covid-19 outbreak last month.

According to a report in today’s Irish Times, the Toberona-based facility had to rely on a volunteer – the granddaughter of a resident – to manage its phone lines due to how strapped they were for personnel.

Dealgan House hit the headlines recently after it emerged 22 residents had died from Covid-19 since April 1st.

Now in a letter from Dealgan House’s managing director Eoin Farrelly to relatives, it has been revealed that only seven of the home’s 24 staff were available at the height of the outbreak. The nursing home has 84 beds.

The RCSI Hospitals Group temporarily took over the management of the nursing home on April 17th due to the staffing shortages, in an effort to contain the outbreak.

“Prior to the outbreak, Dealgan House had 22 nurses on our payroll, in addition to a director and deputy director of nursing, that is 24 nurses in all,” wrote Mr Farrelly.

“Overall, 60 per cent of our staff were unavailable for work, some of them ill or in isolation, others fearful for themselves or for a family member with underlying conditions.”

Some managers were also unavailable.

Mr Farrelly also revealed that the volunteer who was looking after calls had to try to manage 2,500 calls in a week, compared to the normal amount of about 300.

“Due to infection control procedures, the volunteer answering the calls could not move around the nursing home and the nurses, prioritising the care of residents and dressed in full PPE [personal protective equipment], could not take phone calls,” he wrote.

“I know it was very distressing not to be able to speak to a nurse about your loved one at that critical time and I sincerely apologise for this.”

No new cases of the disease have been reported at Dealgan House for 25 days.

HIQA have vowed to investigate the matter and Mr Farrelly said in his letter that he would be fully compliant with this review.

Read more in The Irish Times here.