The medical assessment unit (MAU) at Ennis Hospital, which is part of UL Hospitals’ Group, is now operating seven days a week.
The Mid-West HSE said it hopes the expansion of opening hours to include weekends will help to ease overcrowding in the emergency department at University Hospital Limerick but, more importantly, will also provide and enhance the service for the local people and GPs.
Since opening in 2013, the number of patients presenting at Ennis MAU has increased year-on-year with between 20 to 35 patients assessed daily.
Dr Tom Peirce, consultant in charge, explained, “The unit aim to see patients within two hours of arrival. In approximately 15% of cases, we will admit the patients who come to the MAU but the emphasis is on same-day diagnosis, treatment and discharge, wherever possible. The MAU work very closely with the community intervention teams to ensure a seamless pathway of care for the patient between our hospital and home,” said Dr Pierce.
Dr Seamus Geraghty, formerly a GP in Ennis, who is now working as a registrar in the Ennis MAU, said their colleagues in primary care have given very positive feedback about the service.
“They believe that it is a much better model for patients suffering from chronic conditions or the elderly, who are seen quicker than they would be in a busy emergency department. They also welcome the seamless continuity of care between hospital and community and that patients will be seen by MAU staff on the day following treatment,” he said.
Patients are referred to the MAU via a case manager by their GP, Shannondoc or through University Hospital Limerick, once it has been established that they are suitable for the service.
The HSE stressed that Ennis MAU should not be confused with the local injury unit (LIU) which treats minor injuries in patients aged five years and older. Patients can self-refer to the LIU or they can be referred by their GP.