A meeting of the Northern Health and Social Care Trust board on Thursday morning was told it will be open to patients from across Northern Ireland after a need for a “step down” facility for recovering Covid patients was identified.
The development was approved in September (read here) and it has been brought forward given “growing pressures on the system”.
It is expected that a ward in the first phase will be “up and running” for November 20 following refurbishment of an existing building on the Whiteabbey Hospital site.
Neil Martin, interim divisional director of strategic development and business services, reported that refurbishment of wards one and three is currently taking place. Rehabilitation patients are still accommodated in ward two at present.
He noted that efforts are being made to provide a quiet time for these patients during this refurbishment.
He explained that ward two patients will then be moved to another ward on the hospital site to leave the block as a Nightingale facility.
Mr Martin told members it will be a regional facility “taking patients from right across Northern Ireland”.
“The Trust is pleased we are able to deliver this for the region. We are confident enough we can do this and do it well,” he said.
Board member Glenn Houston asked about the recruitment of nursing staff.
Karen Hargan, director of human resources, explained there are waiting lists regionally and a number of staff on the waiting list are to be utilised for Whiteabbey as well as through internal transfer requests and agencies. She added that the recruitment process is due to commence soon.
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter
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