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On the frontline: First look inside Northern Ireland's Nightingale Hospital

Northern Ireland's first Nightingale Hospital has been unveiled, as the number of people admitted to hospital as a result of the coronavirus outbreak continues to increase.

Work has been ongoing at the City Hospital tower block in Belfast ahead of the anticipated surge of Covid-19 patients requiring intensive care in the weeks ahead.

The Department of Health said a significant temporary reconfiguration of existing critical care provision across the hospital network was needed.

The Nightingale Hospital has beds for 230 patients and will be staffed by a team drawn from across Northern Ireland, the Department of Health said.

Inside Northern Ireland's Nightingale Hospital [Photos] Close

Nurse Marie McNaney showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Nurse Marie McNaney showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Nurse Marie McNaney showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Nurse Marie McNaney showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Dr Paul Glover showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Dr Paul Glover showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

General views showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Nurse Marie McNaney showing the new Northern Ireland Nightingale Hospital wards designed to treat coronavirus sufferers at Belfast City Hospital on April 7th 2020 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Surge plans will also see a boost to the critical care capacity at Altnagelvin and Ulster Hospital.

Health Minister Robin Swann toured the Nightingale Hospital and met staff on Tuesday. As did the Belfast Telegraph.

The minister said: “We are radically and rapidly reshaping our hospital network to prepare services for the Covid-19 surge. That includes transforming the City Hospital tower block into a Nightingale Hospital."

He added: “There has been a tremendous amount of work undertaken at great pace to make the necessary infrastructure alterations within the tower block, and I want to thank healthcare staff and those companies and organisations who responded so quickly and effectively to make this transformation possible.

“For those Covid-19 patients who will be transferred to the Nightingale Hospital, I have no doubt that you will receive the highest standard of care from our outstanding health professionals.”

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Health Minister Robin Swann and Chief Nursing Officer Charlotte McArdle visited Northern Ireland’s Nightingale Hospital.  During the visit they met with front line staff and saw the new intensive care facilities. Picture: Michael Cooper

Health Minister Robin Swann and Chief Nursing Officer Charlotte McArdle visited Northern Ireland’s Nightingale Hospital. During the visit they met with front line staff and saw the new intensive care facilities. Picture: Michael Cooper

Michael Cooper

Health Minister Robin Swann and Chief Nursing Officer Charlotte McArdle visited Northern Ireland’s Nightingale Hospital. During the visit they met with front line staff and saw the new intensive care facilities. Picture: Michael Cooper

So far in Northern Ireland 73 people have died and 1,255 people have contracted the virus from those that have been tested.

Belfast's Balmoral MoT centre was opened on Tuesday for health staff to undergo tests for the virus. Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has made all Northern Ireland's MoT centres available for use.

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Testing for Covid-19 of health service workers at the Balmoral MoT Centre on Belfast's Boucher Road. Pic Stephen Davison

Testing for Covid-19 of health service workers at the Balmoral MoT Centre on Belfast's Boucher Road. Pic Stephen Davison

Testing for Covid-19 of health service workers at the Balmoral MoT Centre on Belfast's Boucher Road. Pic Stephen Davison

The Department of Health said it has now increased its total of mechanical ventilators used in critical care to 197. Further substantial orders are in place for additional ventilators and a wide range of devices capable of providing respiratory support, it said.

Minister Swann added: “Currently across health and social care in Northern Ireland there is sufficient capacity, equipment and oxygen to provide critical care for those who need it. We have additional ventilators on order to meet our estimated clinical care need of 400 ventilated clinical care beds. And there are another 500 respiratory devices on order that can support patients before or after critical care.

“In order to ensure that our health and social care system can provide the care that every patient needs, it is vital that everyone across Northern Ireland continues to work together to stop the transmission of Covid-19 by staying at home to protect services and each other.”

The first batches of a five million PPE order have arrived in Northern Ireland to help with the battle on the frontlines against the virus.

Belfast Telegraph