Ambulances queuing outside Letterkenny University Hospital on Tuesday
Letterkenny University Hospital has closed five wards due to outbreaks of Covid-19.
There has been a steady increase in the number of Covid-19 patients being treated at the hospital over the last week.
There were 26 cases being treated at the hospital on Tuesday night, up from 14 a week previously.
The Saolta Hospital Group, which manages the hospital, said the impact of Covid-19 is one of the factors contributing to overcrowding.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said there were 48 admitted patients waiting for beds at the hospital on Wednesday morning. The union says 10 ambulances were queueing to get into the hospital on Tuesday due to the level of overcrowding.
The hospital is postponing some surgeries due to a lack of bed capacity and patients are being contacted directly if their procedure is being postponed.
All available beds are in use including 23 escalation beds, which have been opened on a temporary basis by bringing in additional agency staff and by existing staff working additional hours, management said.
The hospital also deployed additional doctors, nurses and support staff to the emergency department on Tuesday to address the additional pressures.
Saolta said 160 patients had presented at the emergency department on Tuesday, adding that a range of factors including the impact of winter and the high numbers attending emergency departments who need to be admitted for ongoing care, is leading to a very high demand on hospital services throughout the country.
“The ongoing high number of people attending who need to be admitted for further treatment means that there is pressure on bed availability in the hospital and this is resulting in significant delays being experienced by patients in the emergency department who are waiting for a bed to become available on a ward.”
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