Speaking at a meeting on Thursday morning, Chief Executive Jennifer Welsh reported that work is “ongoing” at the hospital to “create an ICU fit for purpose”.
“Work is going well during a particularly challenging phase given we are having to temporarily reduce the number of beds on site to allow for work ongoing.”
She noted that the contractors are “working very hard” to reduce this period from four weeks to three and are now “halfway through” during what she described as a “particularly busy and intense time on the Antrim site”.
The intensive care unit is being located to a new ward at Antrim Hospital at a cost of £2.38m.
The Trust has said previously that this development will “result in the ability to care for up to 10 ICU patients with further ability to increase to 13 beds in an adjacent area should additional ICU capacity be required for future surges”.
The Chief Executive went on to say that the Trust is currently seeing “a different cohort of patient in ICU”.
She also stated: “We will have further surges in relation to Covid. We will have normal winter pressures and resurgence of respiratory illnesses we did not see last year making it very difficult going into this winter. I think the Antrim site will be particularly challenged this winter and other Trusts will be challenged as well.”
Sarah Williamson, Assistant Director Performance, Innovation and Quality Improvement, told members that Covid patients requiring hospitalisation are “sicker than before”.
“In-patients are younger and healthier, have got sicker with Covid and needing hospitalisation.”
She reported that since July 19, 60 in-patients have required respiratory support at Antrim Hospital.
Wendy Magowan, the Trust’s Interim Director of Operations, also noted a “completely different cohort” of Covid patients who are of a lower age group and who “get sicker quicker and present later” .
“Older people are few and far between. It is just a completely different dynamic,” she commented.
The 10 ICU beds at Antrim Hospital, she added, have been “very busy” with a “high turnover”.
by Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter