New Medical Assessment Unit opens at Mallow General Hospital

The newly built Medical Assessment Unit at Mallow General Hospital opened on Monday, replacing the temporary facility that it had been operating in since last March. The new eight bed unit, which will be open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm, will treat patients referred directly by their GP/Southdoc, who are suffering from a recent onset of symptoms such as breathlessness, chest pain or blackouts. The unit only accepts patients referred by their GP or Southdoc to ensure that only patients suitable for treatment present at this unit.

While welcoming the opening of the unit, Minister of State Sean Sherlock said some clarification was needed from the HSE in relation to the referral system, and also in relation to the peole who present at the hospital between 8pm and 8am. “We will continue to work on these issues,” he said.

Patients referred to the Medical Assessment Unit will be seen within an hour of arrival by a senior doctor who has ready access to diagnostics such as x-rays, blood tests, scans, etc. The MAU is staffed by a team including consultant physicians, nurses, healthcare assistants, dieticians, administrators, caterers and housekeepers.

The clinical lead for the MAU is Dr. Ceara Harte, general physician with a special interest in cardiology who is supported by Dr. Cornelius Cronin, general physician with a special interest in gastroenterology, Dr John Kiely, general physician with a special interest in respiratory who started this April and the newly appointed geriatrician Dr Ciara McGlade who commenced duty in August. Adrian Higgins, CNM2 will be the lead nurse in the unit under the guidance of Mary Owens, Director of Nursing.

The new unit is part of a €4.5m capital investment in Mallow General Hospital which consists of a two storey extension with the Medical Assessment Unit on the ground floor and a replacement Endoscopy Suite suitable for the following procedures: gastroscopy (upper digestive tract), sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy (lower intestine) and cystoscopy (urninary system) on the first floor due in October 2013.

Dr. Ceara Hart, clinical lead MAU, said “The opening of the new unit has multiple benefits for patients. Medical assessment units facilitate early diagnosis and initiation of appropriate treatment. This results in patients being discharged earlier, a reduction in the volume of medical admissions and a shortening in the length of time patients spend in hospital. Southdoc/GPs can also admit medical patients directly to the hospital outside the opening times of the Medical Assessment Unit and this is proving very successful.”

Ms. Mary Owens, Director of Nursing at Mallow General Hospital welcomed the opening of the new Medical Assessment Unit and said, “The Medical Assessment Unit provides rapid assessment, diagnosis and early treatment based on the patients’ needs. The new unit will make a positive contribution to the management of beds in the hospital and will, most importantly, lead to better care for medically ill patients. The changes that have taken place and will take place over the coming months in the hospital will ensure patients attending Mallow General Hospital will receive the right care, in the right place and from the right person. Since opening, attendance at both units is increasing steadily. In the five months since opening, 1,770 patients have been seen in the LIU and 1,506 in MAU and feedback received from patients is highly satisfactory.”