Dr. John Sheehan
MB, BCH, BAO, DCH, DME, MICGP, MRCGP, MD
There has being huge work done in preparation for the COVID 19 Pandemic in the communities, Hospitals GP, Practices to name just a few. An additional support is the opening of Community Assessment Hubs which are currently opening throughout the country. Five are planned for the Cork/Kerry area; Two are planned for Cork City (Saint Marys Heath Campus and Ballincollig) , Mallow, Bantry and Kerry. The first Hub opened at St. Marys Health Campus.
The Community Assessment Hubs are for the cohort of patients over the age of 16 who are Covid 19 Positive or presumptive Covid 19 positive and whose symptoms are worsening, and that require urgent assessment. The purpose of the Hubs is to allow a place where patients can be assessed safely and quickly without having to attend A/E or their GP on their referral by their GP.
Deteriorating COVID-19 related symptoms especially respiratory symptoms suggestive of viral pneumonia and/or URGENT non COVID-19 related symptoms in a patient suspected of COVID-19 illness where they need face to face assessment to decide if they need to be referred to hospital or can be managed at home e.g sub-acute abdomen. Referral to the Hubs is via a patients GP.
All other patients with Covid 19 or presumptive Covid 19 will be managed within the current guidelines in General Practice through telephone triage, testing where patient meets criteria and in surgery respiratory assessments.
What happens when you are referred to a community Assessment Hub?
If a Patient with COVID 19 Symptoms is getting worse and needs assessment their GP will refer them to the Hub. They are advised to have a mobile fully charged before attending the hub as they will be asked questions while in their car.
Patients are met at front door by appointment, family/carers remain outside (unless essential), patient given a mask and brought to a designated waiting area/ room. The staff meeting you will be wearing full PPE Equipment which can seem strange. The Hub is staffed by Local GPs, Nursing and Admin staff who will be familiar with local hospital networks and support services. Your details should already be entered from referral.
The assessment will consist of measuring your temp. Blood Pressure, respiratory rate and oxygen levels along with a clinical assessment based on your history and symptoms. Following assessment there are three possible Outcomes; Continue management at home with watchful observation in case a patient’s condition deteriorates, Referral to ED for assessment or referral to an isolation unit for observation.
It is likely that the community assessment Hubs with be needed for the next few months.
The Hubs are a welcome additional support in the the battle of the COVID pandemic but the main measures that will beat this pandemic is the social distancing and the public (you!) following the Public Health Advice.