ANNOUNCING the closure of the coronary care unit in Nenagh last week, the HSE said it was in line with new national clinical programmes and was part of the process of providing safer patient care in acute hospital services in the Mid-West.
Having patients from North Tipperry assessed and treated in the emergency department at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, or the nearest appropriate hospital, will allow prompt access to higher level investigations and treatment such as cardiac catheterisation (angiography), advanced radiology and critidcal care, its statement said.
The local injuries unit at Nenagh will provide care for certain injuries and will remain open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. Nenagh Hospital will continue to admit GP referred patients (with accompanying letter) with less critical conditions for assessment and treatment via the Medical Assessment Unit. Similarly, many patients, following their initial treatment in Limerick, will be transferred back to Nenagh for follow-on care.
Dr Damien Ryan, consultant in emergency medicine, said: “This change in practice allows centralisation of emergency care for our sickest patients in the region to Limerick while allowing the injuries unit in Nenagh to focus on the care of adults and children over five with injuries such as broken bones, soft tissue injuries and wounds. This will allow for rapid assessment and improved waiting times in accordance with the national clinical programmes.”
Dr Manus Moloney, consultant physician, said he was satisfied it was in the best interests of patients.
The move, endorsed by clinical consultants at regional and national level and the requirement to improve patient safety, involves the closure of Nenagh’s single cardiology bed and is part of the acute medicine programme now being rolled out in the region.
“Supporting this has been the development of an eight-bedded medical assessment unit that will continue to asssess and treat patients with medical conditions referred by their GP. This unit complements the work of the acute medicine programme,” he said.
The Mid Western cardiology team said: Medicine is constantly evolving and we are seeking to improve our delivery of care to the people of North Tipperary. We are confident that better patient outcomes will result as cardiac patients will have timely access to the cardiac catheterisation laboratory and other advanced services at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick, services which can make all the difference in critical situations. Nenagh Hospital will continue to provide out-patient cardiology services and a range of cardiac investigations, including echocardiagram, stress test, 24-hour blood pressure and home heart rate monitoring devices.”
Director of nursing Margaret Gleeson pointed out that Nenagh was exapanding its pulmonary rehabilitation service to include sleep studies and lung function testing.
While hospital manager John Doyle said the role of the hospital had evolved and grown substantially in recent years. Recent developments included a new purpose-built endoscopy suite, a new theatre complex was under way, including a surgical day ward costing E3.5m. There has also been an increase in the number of surgeons working at the hospital, from two in 2008 to the present 22, in areas such as orthopaedics, ENT, urology, maxillo facial, general surgery, vascular, gynaecology and dental.
He also pointed out that the hospital had a staff of 214 and had achieved the increased day case activity while remaining within the annual budget of E17m.