Medical services at Nenagh Hospital have been given a massive boost with the opening of the facility’s endoscopy unit.
And further good news has been predicted for the hospital with the news that a new dermatology unit is scheduled to open at the end of the year.
The endoscopy unit in the hospital’s new E2.5m wing will treat up to 600 patients between now and the new year as part of the Department of Health’s national screening programme.
The hospital’s director of nursing, Colette Cowen, told the Tipperary Star this week that the unit, which has 10 endoscopes, had already treated 120 patients since it opened.
The unit means that patients from throughout the Mid-West will be screened in Nenagh, and already it has had patients from as far afield as north Kerry. The importance of the unit being based in the Mid-West means that patients are able to get treatment and medical attention close to home, instead of having to travel to St James’s Hospital in Dublin.
Hospital manager John Doyle revealed that the work could be worth around E150,000 to Nenagh. He said that this extra money could be put into additional services at the hospital.
Following the bad news over the past number of years that Nenagh hospital was in decline. Ms Cowen said that the opposite was true.
“We are offering many different types of specialised treatment here at Nenagh, and the endoscopy unit is part of that,” she said.
The Tipperary Star was given a tour of the hospital this Monday in the company of Nenagh’s Mayor Virginia O’Dowd, and among the facilities were the state-of-the-art cardiac unit, the medical assesment unit, post-op rooms and sterilization unit, and the infusion unit, which is located in the same building.
Mayor O’Dowd said that she was delighted to be shown all the state-of-the-art facilities that were now in Nenagh Hospital. She said that securing services such as the endoscopy unit for the hospital would ensure its future.
“I would like to pay tribute to Colette Cowen as director of nursing for all the time and effort she has put in to attracting and ensuring that Nenagh has these facilities. Praise must also be given to the staff, who, while suffering shortages, have been prepared to undergo extra training and be highly flexible in their work. I look forward to other services coming to Nenagh, which has shown it has the capacity and skill to offer treatment at the highest level,” she said.
Cllr O’Dowd also praised the work of Friends of Nenagh Hospital, who had fundraised to contribute extras that would make life more comfortable and relaxing for patients attending the endoscopy and the infusion units.
Ms Cowen said that cleanliness was vital and that the on-site staff took great pride in keeping the place clean. The hospital does not employ contract cleaners.
Ms Cowen also praised the medical and nursing staff, pointing that because of the embargo on recruitment, the staff had been flexible and willing to undergo training to make sure the unit was a success.
The unit’s sister-in-charge Patricia Ryan, mother of Ireland and Munster rugby star Donnacha, is delighted with how the unit is operating.
“It’s just great,” she said.
Nurse Niamh Hogan in the infusion unit said that the unit was working well.
“We have patients here from west Limerick today. While the drugs are expensive, it does mean that people suffering from many different ailments can be treated without long stays in hospital. It is better for them because the can lead a more normal life,” she said.
Nenagh Hospital is the only centre in the Mid-West not to suffer operating theatre closures this summer, with the exception of 10 days while the roof was been removed from the canteen area to allow for new top-of-the-range theatres to be installed.
However there are fears that funding could be an issue with Government cutbacks, but Mr Doyle and Ms Cowen are hopeful that the hospital won’t be affected by capital cuts.
“We have gone so far with our work that it would not make sense not to proceed with it to the end,” said Mr Doyle.
Nenagh also has a pre-operation assessment unit, which opened last March and which has seen over 1,000 patients since. The unit means that patients can come to the hospital in advance of their treatment and have all the necessary preparation carried out.
Mr Doyle further disclosed that builders are due on site to start work on the new E200,000 dermatology unit in the new few weeks, and this work is likely to last until around Christmas.
“A new dermatologist has been appointed and she is due to start at the end of the year,” he said.
Ms Cowen described the prospect of this facility as “huge”, not just for the hospital but also for patients who have been faced with long waiting lists.
Meanwhile, Ms Cowen pointed out that, while the hospital’s A&E unit closed at 8pm each evening, it was still possible to be admitted to the hospital at night, providing a referral was made by a GP. If someone presents at the hospital at night, they can be referred to Shannondoc first, and if they need to be admitted they will be facilitated.
“We find that many people think the A&E is closed and they are heading to Limerick, but we are open during the day,” she said.
Both Ms Cowen and Mr Doyle said that the success of the endoscopy unit was likely to see the hospital bid for more national programmes in the future.