Friday 15 December 2017

Minister's hospital visit 'kept to minimun' because of virus

By Maria Pepper and Amy Lewis

The Minister for Health Simon Harris was warned about an outbreak of the highly contagious Norovirus (Winter Vomiting Bug) when he arrived at Wexford General Hospital on Monday morning but proceeded with a visit to the wards anyway.

Minister Harris came to Wexford with an entourage as part of an ongoing tour of hospitals around the country just as the HSE was appealing the public not to visit the hospital unless absolutely necessary.

Patients and staff in the medical wing of the hospital have been affected by the outbreak and a number of wards have been closed to visitors.

Hospital staff made an exception for the Minister who paid a scheduled visit to the hospital on Monday and also for the Mayor of Wexford Frank Staples who met him there along with Cllrs. Michael D'Arcy, Willie Fitzharris and John Hegarty.

'We did warn him about the outbreak. We stayed well away from the affected area and kept the visit to a minimum,' said a HSE spokesperson.

'It's fairly contained towards the back of the medical area but we are requesting that visitors stay away,' she said.

'We are appealing to the public to avoid visiting the hospital, unless necessary, until further notice, and to attend their GP in the first instance, where possible,' she added.'It's not a full ban but we are advising people not to visit.'

The Fine Gael Minister for Health may have developed an immunity to the viurs as Wexford was the 22nd hospital he has visited in the past six months.

'I'm here as part of my ongoing visits to hospitals around the country. It gives me a sense of the real issues affecting people that I don't think you can truly get from sitting behind a desk in Dublin,' he said.

Minister Harris went on to visit It's Good to Talk for a discussion on the issue of mental health.

In a statement on behalf of the hospital, Ireland East Hospital Group spokesperson Caroline Kohn said management and staff were delighted to welcome Minister Harris, local councillors and other invited guests.

'We are pleased to have the opportunity to show the excellent service we provide our community and patients as well as highlight the need for support and investment in the infrastructure, services and staff in order to continue to deliver the best in patient-centred care which our community deserves.'

Wexford People

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