The inquest into the death of a man alleged to have contracted Covid-19 in Mayo University Hospital while being treated for a separate medical condition could take up to 18 months to conclude.
County Coroner, Mr Pat O’Connor, formally opened the inquest into the death of John Carolan, Ballymunnelly, Belacorrick, Co Mayo at a sitting of the coroner’s court in Ballina this afternoon, Tuesday, October 20.
Mr Carolan (79) was admitted to Mayo University Hospital on March 18 last for stroke-related treatment and passed-away there on April 1, having subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.
Mr O’Connor adjourned the inquest to Ballina Courthouse at 11am on December 16 next.
He directed that Mr Carolan’s family arrange to make further depositions in the interim after two of the deceased’s daughters, Marie Linton and Teresa Shaw, indicated a number of issues they wished to be addressed.
These included an allegation that there were no dedicated Covid-19 treatment wards in place in the hospital at the time of Mr Carolan’s admission – with suspected cases being treated in side rooms off wards containing vulnerable patients – and that the hospital had missed many opportunities to swab the deceased for Covid-19 despite the fact that his infection markers were going up.
Ms Shaw also asked to know why the family was not consulted in relation to certain alleged notes on her father’s file including directions not to escalate treatment and not to resuscitate him.
Mr O’Connor adjourned the inquest, saying he was trying to put a preliminary timeline on the process. He advised that it might take anything up to 18 months to conclude.
He requested that Mayo University Hospital’s legal representative, Mr Padaic Brennan of Ronan Daly Jermyn, identify and notify him of principle witnesses – namely the consultant that cared for Mr Carolan or a suitable member of his medical team and a representative of the hospital management team who could give evidence in relation to the hospital’s Covid-19 management regime throughout the duration of the pandemic and justify any aspects of that regime from a public health perspective.
The coroner indicated that he may choose – depending on the information that is furnished to him – to call on the assistance of an expert in the form of independent consultants in the area of public health or respiratory illnesses.
He also issued a stern warning that members of the public should not be concerned with rumour and innuendo and should continue to use the medical services and be guided by their doctors in relation to the medical care and treatment they require.
Mr O’Connor maintained that certain people were using the pandemic and other issues arising from it for their own political purposes which are not in the interests of the public in general.