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Minister Simon Harris TD speaking at the opening of the Covid-19 Community Assessment Hub at the Mater Hospital. Photographer: Julien Behal

The Mater Hospital, HSE and Safetynet open a Covid-19 Community Assessment Hub aimed at caring for those experiencing homelessness and others unable to access treatment 


Minister for Health opens new Hub at the Mater which will care and treat the most marginalised in the inner city

8th May 2020 


The Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, HSE and medical charity Safetynet are today launching a Covid Community Assessment Hub which will specifically care for vulnerable groups in the inner city.  The Minister for Health Simon Harris TD performed the official opening this morning (Friday 8th May).  


This Covid Hub will include an assessment unit at the Mater Hospital and a mobile assessment unit working across the inner city to serve the needs of people living in poverty and those living in congregated settings.


Marginalised groups often live in overcrowded settings which means physical distancing and self isolation or cocooning is difficult or impossible. This increases the risk of spread of the virus.  


These communities are also less likely to try to access healthcare for diagnosis in the first place or when they do seek medical attention, they often do not have the supports needed to recover.  Safetynet and the Mater Hospital, with the support of the HSE, are partnering to provide a bespoke service which will better suit their needs in the fight against Covid19.


Minister Harris said: “This community assessment hub is a key part of the infrastructure providing a rapid response service to test for Covid-19 among people who are homeless, those living in extreme poverty, undocumented migrants and other vulnerable groups in the inner city.”


"The number of cases of Covid-19 among people who are homeless is less than expected and this is a testament to the effectiveness of this targeted approach. I want to acknowledge the leadership of the HSE, the Mater Hospital and Safetynet in developing this service. Inter-agency cooperation is crucial to provide a coordinated response to the complex health and social needs of people who are homeless and vulnerable, in line with Slaintecare. We owe a huge debt to these frontline workers who are putting their lives at risk in order to save others."


Dr Tara McGinty, Consultant in  Infectious Diseases and Inclusion Health at the Mater, said: “The Mater Hospital, along with our GP colleagues from across north Dublin, has always cared for the most vulnerable in our society.  Those who are homeless, or from other vulnerable groups such as migrants, or those with substance abuse problems face even greater challenges to halt the spread of the virus and to recover from it, if they contract it.  The Covid Hub solution is a much needed and valuable addition to the resources we need to protect and treat these communities.”


The Mater Hospital is making a purpose built assessment facility available to Safetynet Primary Care to assess and treat patients from these marginalised communities.  This unit will add much needed capacity to the Safetynet mobile assessment unit that travels to communities across the inner city when required. Daily phone calls will ensure all those in isolation are being monitored and are given in-person assessments when required.


“Safetynet has been providing assessment and monitoring to Covid positive patients via our mobile health unit. This partnership with the Mater and HSE increases our capacity to care for the vulnerable people who do not have access to care,” explains Safetynet’s CEO Dr Fiona O’Reilly. “This approach of healthcare provision works across geographical and institutional boundaries and strengthens the hospital community interface all to the betterment of patient care,” she said.  


Mary O’Kelly, Head of Primary Care in CHO7 said: “The HSE has adopted a city wide approach to addressing the needs of vulnerable groups in the greater Dublin area during the Covid19 crisis. Dublin South, Kildare and West Wicklow Community Healthcare Organisation recognise there are vulnerable people who are unable to attend assessment hubs in various locations, do not have access to a GP and who may require the support of additional services including interpretative services and bespoke travel options. The HSE supports the development of a Safetynet mobile and static assessment hub that will combine the national protocol for assessment of those who are Covid positive with additional services to ensure the right service is delivered at the right time in the right place.”


CEO of the Mater, Alan Sharp said: “The Mater is delighted to support Safetynet in their efforts to ensure everyone in the inner city has access to high quality support, testing and care for Covid-19, no matter what your background.  This valuable resource strengthens the response at hospital and the community level to support the most vulnerable in our society. It is also very much in keeping with the key ethos of SláinteCare which is about hospitals and the community working closely together to deliver the highest quality care at the most appropriate level.” 

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