*Confirmation of the plans were given at a meeting of the Regional Health Forum.
PLANS ARE AFOOT to locate a satellite haemodialysis unit in Ennis.
Management of UL Hospitals Group are to meet with shortlisted companies this month, having already met with a number of potential providers.
Currently, there are 57 patients with an address in Co Clare receiving dialysis treatment from UL Hospitals Group at the renal department of University Hospital Limerick and also the satellite dialysis centre on the Dock Rd. An unspecified amount of patients believed to be in the region of 30 are also getting treatment in Galway according to staff in the Saolta University Health Care Group.
CEO of UL Hospitals Group, Colette Cowan confirmed that they are “undergoing a tender process for a contracted satellite haemodialysis unit to be located in Ennis and which will serve patients from County Clare. Neither Ennis Hospital nor the Primary Care Centre in Ennis is considered suitable due to capacity/demand issues within those facilities. We envisage that this unit will be similar to the satellite centre already in place on the Dock Road, Limerick”.
Potential providers have met with management of UL Hospitals Group, the successful company will provide the dialysis machines with the contract anticipated to be awarded in the first quarter of 2024.
Four isolation rooms are provided for in the tender document with a gowning area. Consultant-directed medical care for chronic haemodialysis patients, nurse-delivered and supervised haemodialysis delivery and care with regular consultant led reviews, regular
dietetic review and support, other clinical supports such as pharmacy services and administrative support are envisaged to be provided within the satellite facility.
Ms Cowan advised, “Governance of this unit will be provided for by UL Hospitals Group with a designated Consultant Nephrologist from the Renal Department at University Hospital Limerick providing the overall clinical governance. The development of the unit in Ennis will allow patients to benefit from better quality of life by being able to avail of treatments closer to home. The development of this unit will also help ease pressure on the Renal Department at University Hospital Limerick and on the satellite unit on the Dock Road, Limerick”.
Speaking at a meeting of the Regional Health Forum, Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) welcomed the progress. “Plenty of people other than myself have been doing a lot of work advocating for the service, there are a lot of people who deserve credit to get to this point. 57 people in Clare will be delighted to hear progress on the way”. He had tabled a query on the unit after issuing a commitment to do so at the July meeting of Clare County Council.
An update had also been sought later in the meeting by Cllr Mary Howard (FG). She stated, “Cillian spoke of dialysis, there’s actually 91 patients”. The Ennis woman continued, “You would attend hospital three days a week for four hours a time, prior to COVID they went on a mini bus from Ennis and that has stopped so it is now individual taxis which must be costing a fortune, people from Cilllian’s neck of the woods (West Clare) and I am surprised he didn’t mention it, the trip is 90 minutes”. She flagged the mental strain such trips take on patients.
Mayor of the Ennis Municipal District, Cllr Pat Daly (FF) has been vocal on the need for a dialysis unit in the county town. In a motion before the Council in July, he asked that the HSE and Department of Health be contacted to provide a dialysis machine at Ennis Hospital. He highlighted the “huge cost” paid by the HSE on transporting patients via taxi. “Now is the time the facility be made available at Ennis Hospital. I would ask our HSE Forum members to support and raise at their next meeting”.
With such a high amount of patients being transported into Limerick, Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF) remarked that “the monetary impact is too much”. Cllr Michael Begley (IND) stated, “The cost of this and modern technology now, you can have those machines at home so it won’t be a huge expense to cater for 20 people in Ennis Hospital, cost should not be a problem”.
Recalling that she raised the matter in a motion two years ago, Cllr Ann Norton (IND) revealed that the constituent who brought the matter to her attention has since died. “Money is spent on taxis and it is such a shame to think people are dragged out of their homes very early in the morning and not returned until late in the day, the people should not be put under pressure to leave their home”.
In September 2007, Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) was part of a delegation to meet then Minister for Health, Mary Harney (PD) about the reconfiguration of Ennis Hospital, “we asked that services in Ennis wouldn’t be reduced, Cllr Daly is looking for an increased service and I wholeheartedly support him,” he stated.
His namesake, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) commented, “Reconfiguration and bringing a so called centre of excellence has failed, this is a very practical solution, the cost of these units has reduced dramatically”. Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) suggested the “state of the art location” of the primary care centre on the Station Rd in Ennis as a potential home for the dialysis centre. “It is not rocket science and is something we should have in our county,” said Cllr Joe Cooney (FG).