60 Bed UHL block – Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly officially opens the new haematology/oncology ward at University Hospital Limerick and is pictured with staff from cancer services and members of the hospital management team. Picture: Don Moloney
New Capacity Improves Patient Experience and Isolation Capabilities
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has officially opened four new inpatient wards at University Hospital Limerick which were completed during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A total of 98 inpatient beds and 10 critical care beds have been opened at UHL since 2020 and these additional isolation facilities proved crucial in keeping cancer, renal, respiratory and other vulnerable patients safe during the height of the emergency. They also allowed patients waiting for urgent surgical procedures to receive care at a time when so much elective care in the group and around the country was deferred.
The new accommodation includes the 60 Bed UHL Block which opened in late 2020/early 2021 and the new 24-bed Ward 6B for haematology and oncology patients, a rapid-build project developed as part of the national pandemic response.
Speaking as he opened the new blocks, Minister Donnelly said: “In recent years, there has been, and will continue to be, substantial investment in University Hospital Limerick. In 2017, we saw the development of a new and much needed emergency department. In 2021, a new 60 Bed UHL modular ward block opened. This block provides modern, single-room inpatient accommodation with improved infection prevention and control capabilities as well as patient flow throughout the hospital. This follows the completion of two separate rapid-build projects, constructed in response to the Covid-19 emergency, which provided an additional 38 inpatient beds on site at UHL and ensured the continuation of important haematology and oncology services.”
The 60 Bed UHL Block was developed by Western Building Systems while the 24-Bed Block was completed by Clancy Construction.
Prof Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group, said: “The new patient accommodation opened by the Minister today shows the level of support we have received from the government since the start of the pandemic.
“Some of this work was underway when the pandemic struck and some was only commenced as part of the emergency response. The contractors had to contend with huge supply chain disruption and comply with all the public health guidance for building sites. It is a tribute to them and to HSE Capital and Estates that they still managed to complete these projects on time. It was vital that they did so as the pandemic would have been even more difficult to manage without these isolation rooms.
This new capacity enabled us to keep vulnerable patients safe, including haematology, oncology and renal patients; to provide a safe pathway for people attending UHL for surgery, and to isolate COVID-positive patients. There has been significant improvement in patient experience. In cancer services, for example, we have expanded the capacity for inpatients, reducing the number of cancer patients on general inpatient wards and ensuring more cancer patients are on wards with the most appropriate staffing and skill mix. The ward also provides designated spaces for cancer patients who need emergency assessment, reducing the volume of cancer patients who attend our Emergency Department,” she said.
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