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€14m boost for day facilities at hospital

A €14 million upgrading of infrastructure and equipment at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Ennis copperfastens its retention as an acute medical hospital in the future, Deputy Timmy Dooley has claimed.
The Clare Champion has learned that a new refurbishment project delivering 50 replacement in-patient beds will be officially announced by Health Minister Mary Harney in the coming weeks.
While the Mid-West Health Service has declined to confirm the cost of this project before it goes to tender, The ’Champion understands that it will be in the region of €10m.
This is in addition to the expenditure of €1.2m to accommodate the new CAT scanner at the hospital, €2.5m on a new endoscopy project, €250,000 on orthopaedic equipment, €100,000 for urology equipment and a proposed €250,000 to support additional orthopaedic day surgical services.
Deputy Dooley said capital expenditure on new facilities would also help the hospital to retain medical services, which are due to be centralised under the Teamwork Report in a few years.
He recalled he reluctantly supported the removal of night time accident and emergency services at Ennis and Nenagh hospitals last April, following a commitment from Minister Harney that funding would be provided to upgrade Ennis to facilitate the provision of safe and sustainable services.
“If this investment had not been secured, fears had been expressed that the hospital could close if it didn’t reach the new standards introduced by HIQA.
“I am delighted that Minister Harney has lived up to her commitment to provide the new in-patient ward block.
“Old-fashioned dormitory style wards has led to the spread of hospital acquired infections, such as MRSA and C-Diff, and created an extremely difficult situation for staff to control the spread of infectious diseases.
“This is the biggest investment in the hospital since it was constructed and is a vote of confidence in the retention of Ennis as an acute medical hospital.
“The transfer of a wide range of day surgery to Ennis hospital from Limerick hospital will eliminate the need for Clare people to travel to Limerick for certain procedures,” he said.
The ’Champion has learned that a contractor has been selected to design and build the upgrading project and the design is undergoing final review prior to award.
Two single storey units will be constructed off-site and will tie into the main hospital through two of the existing wards.
The unit will fulfil the HSE requirements for community nursing facilities, providing modern high specification public healthcare facilities for elderly and high care dependency patients.
Waiting times for colonoscopy and other endoscopic diagnostic procedures will also be greatly reduced due to the provision of the facility.
HSE winter initiative director, John O’Brien revealed that annual revenue spending at Ennis hospital more than doubled from over €10m in 1999 to €23.168m in 2009, while staffing went up from 218 to 281 during this period.
The HSE anticipates that ear, nose and throat surgery, additional general surgery and additional orthopaedic surgery will be in place in the coming months with a strong commitment from local and regional management to continue to develop day surgery at Ennis hospital in the coming years.
A new nurse-led pre-assessment clinic has been established and facilitates significant levels of preparatory work for patients in advance of their surgery in Ennis and Limerick.  It has also been agreed that rheumatology outpatient services will commence at the hospital in coming months in line with the recruitment of a second consultant rheumatologist.
In total, 155 in-patients had CT scans in Ennis since the service opened in July 2009. The HSE is currently recruiting additional staff to the Department of Radiology in Ennis and it is anticipated that the CT service will soon be available on a permanent basis.
A fire certificate has been achieved for the new €2.53m endoscopy unit and the project, to go to tender shortly, is due for completion by end of 2010.

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