A Co Louth nursing home has been taken over by a HSE hospital group as it battles an outbreak of the coronavirus.

The RCSI Hospital Group said it has taken over the operational management of the Dealgan House Nursing Home in Dundalk, which accommodates 63 residents.

It comes amid growing concern over the impact Covid-19 is having on residents and staff in recent weeks.

In a statement to RTÉ News, the RCSI hospital group said it is now responsible for ensuring the necessary model of care through provision of appropriate nursing and medical staff, thereby ensuring residents' wellbeing. 

The hospital group said it is working closely with the owners of the nursing home and it expects the arrangement to be in place for a number of weeks. 

Families of relatives in the nursing home are being informed of the decision it said. 

It also confirmed that the health watchdog HIQA has been notified. 

In a statement to RTÉ News, HIQA said it is aware of the current situation at the nursing home.  However, it said it did not comment on individual cases. 

RTÉ News understands that there has been ten deaths of residents from the nursing home - some in hospital - in the last ten days. However, it is unclear how many of them may have been Covid-19 related deaths. 

Nursing home manager appeals for more resources

The manager of a private nursing home in the midlands which has confirmed cases of Covid-19 amongst residents and staff, has appealed to the Minister for Health to provide her with resources that has been promised on a daily basis for the last three weeks. 

Valerie Moore, Manager of the Oakdale Nursing Home in Portarlington made the appeal as part of an urgent request for support and assistance to help residents and her nursing staff in the nursing home.

Ms Moore is making an appeal to former Health Care Workers, Nurses or any Allied Health Care Students who are at home from college to contact Oakdale if they can provide any assistance during the Covid-19 crisis.

Despite many pleas to the HSE for additional help, Ms Moore says that "staff are stretched to the limit at the nursing home to try to provide a high level of care to the residents".  

It is understood that to date four residents and four members of staff have tested positive for the virus, despite additional investment in PPE over the last six weeks.  

Ms Moore said that Minister Simon Harris announced three weeks ago that there was a support package of €72 million for the sector, but says not one euro has arrived into the nursing home to date.

"We are stretched to the limit in trying to maintain a high level of care to our residents," she said.

Ann Fitzpatrick, Matron and owner of St. Teresa's nursing home in Thurles in Co Tipperary has said the terms and conditions to receive part of the €72 million support package announced by the Minister for Health are inappropriate.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime Ms Fitzpatrick said to qualify to receive some of this support a nursing home has to be "open to take additional residents", but she said "it makes no sense, that when the advice to those over 70 is to cocoon, to expose those living at our home to new admissions."

There are 30 residents at her nursing home, and there are five empty beds, and she said she is "hugely concerned" by this element of the support, and so would not take on any new residents.

She said expenses have "shot up" with PPE and extra staffing.

In relation to PPE she said sourcing has been "challenging".

She said she was "furious and disappointed" recently when, after doing business with a sanitiser company for a number of years, she was unable to access any, because she was told by the supplier "that the HSE had ring-fenced all of the sanitiser from this company."

"Especially at this time we are supposed to supporting and protecting each other", she said.

Additional reporting Ciaran Mullooly