A €350,000 investment in a new physiotherapy department at Ennis Hospital is delivering for Clare patients in a variety of ways, according to hospital management.
The department opened its doors in March 2015, following the redevelopment of a vacated area of the main hospital building. Patient response to the new department, now approaching its first full year of operation, has been very positive, says Niamh O’Shea, physiotherapy manager, Ennis Hospital.
“We had been delivering a service in temporary accommodation, which was separate from the main hospital and which had a lot of limitations around space, access, comfort and privacy for our patients. While our patient satisfaction surveys for the services themselves were always high, we did receive negative feedback from patients about the environment. So the new modern department has replaced a building that was really not fit-for-purpose and represents a significant improvement in that respect,” said Ms O’Shea.
As the old physiotherapy department was in temporary accommodation, not connected to the main building, access for inpatients – particularly those with impaired mobility or chronic disease – was problematic and physiotherapists generally worked with inpatients on the wards. Now inpatients can easily access the new department, without leaving the main hospital building, enhancing the quality of service they receive and providing additional treatment options.
Outpatients, too, who are referred for physiotherapy by consultants or their GPs, are benefiting from the enhanced environment in the well-equipped department, which affords them improved privacy during their physiotherapy treatment. The additional space has also meant more timely access for more patients to treatment and education programmes for patients with conditions, such as COPD and osteoporosis. For example, waiting lists are coming down for those Clare patients participating in the bone health programme and pulmonary rehabilitation programmes in Ennis.
“As well as providing additional services, we have increased the capacity of some of the programmes we provide. For example, the bone health programme, which is a six-week exercise and education programme for people with osteoporosis and osteopaenia, has doubled its throughput since we moved to the new department,” explained Ms O’Shea.
“Likewise, our pulmonary rehabilitation programme is being run here in a much more fit-for-purpose environment, with more space to go through the various circuits involved and better, more relevant equipment.”
The additional space also allows for a better physiotherapy service to be delivered to children in a more suitable environment. The department, in addition, provides a service to the Local Injury Unit and the medical assessment unit in Ennis.
The department is staffed by four WTE (whole-time equivalent) physiotherapists, providing a range of services to inpatients and outpatients and running education and exercise programmes.