News and Views

UCC provides intensive care nursing course to fight COVID-19

24 Mar 2020

University College Cork is to provide a course to aid nurses address the needs of patients presenting with Covid-19. 

The National Foundation module in Critical Care Nursing is an online accelerated programme aimed at increasing the number of nurses available to provide critical care to patients with COVID-19 as well as to other patients who require intensive care. 

Professor Josephine Hegarty, Head of UCC’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, said; 

“To effectively treat the number of anticipated patients with COVID-19 that require intensive care, it will be important to build critical care capacity within the Irish healthcare system. To a large extent this capacity will include the provision of expert nursing, medical and allied health care as well as the provision of mechanical ventilation.” 

“The easy and rapid access to this education will increase the number of nurses available to provide critical care to patients with COVID-19 as well as to other patients who require intensive care. This module will facilitate nurses to develop high-level skills in caring for patients who are critically ill and help them to work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals in intensive care settings. In addition, the module will facilitate nurses to provide the high levels of support to patients and families during their period of critical care."

In China and Italy, it is estimated that approximately between 5% to 12% of patients who became infected with COVID-19 required admission to intensive care. 

In Italy, it was reported in the first two weeks of the outbreak, that of all the patients who were admitted to hospital with COVID-19, 16% required care in an intensive care unit. Intensive care units are normally areas within a hospital that manage patients with life-threatening illnesses. These units are supported by specialist nursing, medical and allied health care teams. 

From experience in other countries that have had large numbers of people with COVID-19, the majority of patients who require intensive care treatment are older and have pre-existing co-morbidities such as cardiac disease and respiratory conditions. At present, the 2018 Irish National ICU Audit reported that the average length of stay for patients who require intensive care is five days; it has been estimated that the average length of stay for patients with COVID-19 in intensive care units can range from 8 to 10 days. 

Patients with COVID-19 admitted to intensive care units will require highly skilled nursing care and high nurse to patient ratios. At present, it is recommended that there is a ratio of one nurse to one patient in an intensive care unit. This is especially the case for patients who are ventilated, with an overall recommendation that the nurse to patient ratio in a critical care unit should not fall below 1 to 2. 

In addition, as well as staff providing direct care to patients who are critically ill, senior nurses will be required in these units to support and advise nurses providing direct patient care. The National Foundation module in Critical Care Nursing is an online accelerated programme developed in partnership with UCD and the HSE. Further details can be sought from S.Kelleher@ucc.ie.

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF

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