Tuesday, 13 October 2020
Department of Health
Health Services Provision
525. To ask the Minister for Health the costs to date associated with Citywest; the projected future costs; the current and proposed future uses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30141/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 508 and 525 together.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the HSE committed to the provision of a National Self -Isolation Facility, to provide a service for people affected by Covid-19 (confirmed or suspected cases, or close contacts of confirmed cases) who have the capacity for self-management, are required to self-isolate, but are unable to do so. In response to this need, the HSE Self-Isolation Facility at the Citywest Hotel opened to admissions on April 1st 2020, under the governance of HSE Community Operations (Primary Care). The purpose of the unit is to provide a safe environment for residents to self-isolate, and to minimise the risk of community transmission of Covid-19. Referrals to the facility are made by a discharging hospital, GP, Public Health Doctor, contact tracing team or other appropriate medical physicians.
In conjunction with the self-isolation facility at Citywest Hotel, the Hotel Convention Centre was converted into a 300 bed overflow step down facility for patients who have had the virus but are recovering, to alleviate pressure on hospitals in the greater Dublin area. Similar step-down facilities were also established in Limerick and Galway. Thankfully, the pressure on our acute hospitals did not require this facility in Citywest to be brought into operation.
The existing licence agreement for the use of the Citywest Hotel and Convention Centre is expiring and will need to be renewed by the end of October 2020, or the premises returned to its original condition and vacated. Costs incurred to date for Citywest have been €24.7m (April to October 2020).
The national self-isolation facility at Citywest remains operational with admissions continuing. In addition, the HSE Healthcare Worker Self Isolation pathway at Citywest opened for admissions on 1st June 2020. This service is provided for Healthcare Workers who are employed by, or are contracted to commence employment within the HSE, HSE funded agencies or any agency providing healthcare services in Ireland, who are required to self-isolate on arrival into the country prior to commencing employment.
A significant testing (swabbing) centre is now also operational at the site since mid-September governed by HSE South West Dublin area (CHO7). This testing centre in its current configuration and staffing levels is delivering 750-800 tests per day.
In additional, the following services, supported by Acute Operations are now operating from the Convention Centre under existing licence arrangements to ensure utilisation of the facility and to assist the reduction of patient waiting lists:
IEHG Glaucoma Testing:
An IEHG led drive through glaucoma testing clinic is operational which proposes to treat 2,000 patients prior to the expiry of the current licence arrangement.
CHI Allergy Testing:
CHI and CUH commenced ‘Food Challenges’ allergy testing on 7th September 2020. It is anticipated that they will treat 400 patients during a six-week period prior to the expiry of the current licence arrangement.
CHI Orthoptist Clinic:
CHI commenced Orthoptist led clinics on 7th September 2020 to treat a waiting list of approximately 500 patients whose appointments were cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The HSE is committed to the provision of a National Self-Isolation Facility in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and are actively working on contingency measures to ensure the on-going provision of Self-Isolation facilities through 2020 and into 2021 to meet continuing and potential future demand for this service.
Based on activity to date, the HSE requires on-going access to a baseline capacity of 200 beds, with contingency to increase capacity beyond this level in response to increased Covid-19 infection rates; access to a contingent capacity such as that which exists in Citywest is particularly relevant in planning for the outcomes of serial testing in Direct Provision Centres and Food Manufacturing which has the potential to create a greater level of demand for Self-Isolation Facilities. Negotiations with hotel owners, Tetrarch Capital, regarding a new contract are complete and the HSE are currently in the process of submitting a sanction request, to enter a new contract, to the Department of Health for review.