A new outpatients department for Ennis Hospital has opened today (Monday).
Situated at Westpoint Retail Park on the Kilrush Road, the new department will initially house the services currently based in Ennis Hospital, and also allow for the expansion of outpatient services into the future.
Initial phase of operations include a relocation of outpatient staff currently based at Ennis Hospital, at a pace determined by the hospital’s re-emergence from Level 5 COVID-19 restrictions. Claire Lenane, a clinical nurse manager will be the department manager.
With a total floor space of 1,300 square metres, the new OPD in Ennis has 15 clinical rooms, in addition to a phlebotomy bay, four waiting areas, offices and staff changing rooms. The new department, which has an equipping allocation of €900,000 for 2021, will allow for the relocation of services such as cardiac rehabilitation and, later this year, radiology and general X-Ray. All activity in the OPD is scheduled and operates on an appointment-only basis.
Permission for the project was granted in October 2018 by Clare County Council with works beginning a year later. The opening “on schedule” despite a two month period with no construction was welcomed by outgoing project lead Sheila Mulcair. “Currently in the hospital, it can be very difficult to get parking on some days of the week. But here, there is ample parking, easy access from the bypass, and the building is bright, airy and modern, developed specifically with patients’ needs in mind. For the people of the Mid-West region, it’s nothing less than what they deserve”.
“This beautifully designed, state of the art facility is what the people of Clare have long been entitled to for outpatient services,” said UL Hospitals Group CEO, Colette Cowan.
Chief Operations Officer of UL Hospitals Group, Noreen Spillane described it as “ very much a forward-looking development”. She added, “Westpoint supports the strategies outlined in the Sláintecare programme, which aims to enhance health promotion and help people to stay healthy, and provide services that deliver the very best in modern healthcare, in the best location, when they are needed, while providing value for money to the population that funds them”.
In 2019, the last full year prior to the COVID-19 public health emergency, there were 15,176 outpatient appointments in Ennis OPD (not including warfarin, physiotherapy, psychiatry and CNS-led clinics). In 2020, due to the various responses to the pandemic, this decreased by 22.1% to 11,818, of which approximately 40% were conducted virtually.
UL Hospitals Group said the development has been a priority. They outlined that the primary reason for the relocation was due to Ennis Hospital no longer being deemed suitable for the demands for a modern day outpatients service.
The HSE has this month published its Covid recovery plan A Safe Return To Health Services which envisages that outpatient clinics around the country will be resumed to the levels set out in the 2021 National Service Plan by the third quarter of this year. Up to 30% of all consultations will take place over the phone or by video call.