A REDUCTION in sports related activities due to Covid-19 restrictions has been cited as one of the main contributor factors to a dramatic 17.3% decrease in attendances at the Local Injury Unit (LIU) in Ennis Hospital last year.
The LIU, which treats minor injuries for Clare people seven days a week from 8am to 8pm, processed 9,537 attendances during 2020. This was a 17.3% decrease on the previous year due to the impact of Covid-19 social restrictions.
One of the new developments last year was the attendance of some patients from outside the hospital’s catchment area in places bordering Clare such as Gort in South Galway.
In addition to free plentiful parking, high standards and efficiency of the service, Registered Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Brenda Bleach says there is a lot to recommend the unit if you have a minor injury that requires rapid treatment.
Despite the drop last year, Brenda and her colleagues remain busy due to the variety and amount of other injuries that people have suffered while at home during the pandemic.
“Because of the restrictions, people have been doing more DIY in their homes, for example, and getting injured while using the tools.
“There have also been more slips, trips and falls than we would normally expect at this time of the year, and that is probably due to people wanting to use their permitted exercise routes, even during the frosty, icy weather,” Brenda explains.
Stressing the LIU is safe, she insists patients shouldn’t delay seeking treatment for their injury.
“I’m finding that people might be either delaying coming here due to fear of Covid-19, or that they have not been aware of what it is we do here, our standards of care, and the speed with which they can be seen and treated,” she says.
“Our requirement is for people to wear a mask, use the alcohol gel supplied and to social distance in the waiting areas. Only those who need treatment should attend the Injury Unit: relatives or friends should remain in their cars or at home. Patients who require specific assistance and parents of children will be accommodated.”
“Rigorous infection prevention and control standards are in place in the unit and throughout the hospital to keep all patients and staff safe. If anyone is unsure whether they can be treated in the Injury Unit, they can also ring us for advice,” Brenda says.
Operational Director of Nursing at Ennis Hospital, Patricia O’Gorman, says the LIU in Ennis treats thousands of patients every year, who are very satisfied with the efficiency of their staff and the standards of care in the unit.
During the pandemic, anyone attending ED in University Hospital Limerick with a minor injury is being re-directed to the nearest Local Injury Unit. Although the Ennis team asks the public to be mindful that waiting times may increase in line with numbers attending, the Injury Units in Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s are the fastest and most efficient pathway for minor injuries.
Average turn-around time for seeing and treating patients in LIUs is one to two hours. All LIUs provide patients with the same degree of expertise and service as Emergency Departments.
The only exceptions are patients with serious head, back and neck injuries, stomach pain, medical illnesses or mental health problems, and children under the age of five years.
Patients attending the Injury Unit in Ennis benefit from the expertise and care of a consultant-led team of doctors, Registered Advanced Nurse Practitioners (RANPs), nurses, and other healthcare professionals who are highly experienced in the treatment of injuries that may not be threatening to life, but which nonetheless require medical attention and treatment.
RANPs are an important element of the overall service at the injury units. Brenda and her ANP colleagues can perform a full episode of care on patients, from admission to discharge, as well as follow-up and ongoing review.
There is also a referral pathway in place where more complex problems can be referred on, either to the unit’s consultant lead or the relevant specialised area.
Attendance at and LIU costs €75. There is no charge for patients with full medical cards or with a valid medical/GP referral letter. The Injury Unit at Ennis Hospital can be contacted on 065-6863121.