St Johns Hospital Injury Unit – Registered Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Suzanne Lynch with colleagues Angela Carmody Culhane and Evan Wallace of UL Hospitals Group Injury Units.
St Johns Hospital Injury Unit is open for treatment of minor injuries every day
For the minor injuries such as sprains, breaks or burns that befall tens of thousands of people in the Mid-West every year, efficient and effective treatment is at hand in Injury Units at St John’s, Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals – with no need for long waits in University Hospital Limerick’s busy Emergency Department.
In late October 2021, County Clare resident Kate Gilroy found herself in need of such attention when, during renovations of the kitchen in her Cratloe home, a granite countertop crashed onto one of her feet, flattening the big toe.
“I was in shock and didn’t know what to do. I was panicking because I knew I needed help. Luckily, I have a relative who works in healthcare, and who was able to tell me that there was an Injury Unit at St John’s Hospital, and that would be the best place to go,” mum-of-three Kate recalled.
The St Johns Hospital Injury Unit is staffed by an expert team of three full-time Registered Advanced Nurse Practitioners and one trainee ANP, along with two registrars, administrative support and is led by Dr Gareth Quin, a Senior Consultant in Emergency Medicine. The team provides timely treatment for injuries that are non-threatening to life or limb, but which still require expert and prompt medical attention.
In the heat of the moment for a panic-stricken Kate Gilroy, her mind was dominated by the shock of injury and the uncertainty of what lay ahead. “As I was being driven to Limerick, I didn’t know what to expect. I have no experience of hospitals, apart from having my children. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before,” she said.
A few months on from the incident, Kate is thankfully well on the road to full recovery, and her standout memory from the experience is not the injury itself, but the efficiency, professionalism and calmness of the staff, and the swiftness of the process.
An Injury Unit is a walk-in service for the treatment of minor injuries. You don’t need an appointment and you can be referred by your GP.
Open every day
— UL Hospitals (@ULHospitals) December 28, 2021
“When we got to St John’s Hospital Injury Unit the first surprise was the access and the fact that we were able to drive right up to the front door. Given the injury, that was really important. Also, they saw me straight away. At that point, my foot was just dripping in blood. What really surprised me was how quickly the staff took control and immediately put me at my ease,” she said.
On duty that day was Registered Advanced Nurse Practitioner (RANP), Suzanne Lynch. RANPs are a crucial component of the Injury Unit, playing a leading role with the ability to perform a full episode of care on patients from admission to discharge, as well as following up and ongoing review, and referral to expert care when required.
Kate recalls, “I can’t speak highly enough of Suzanne and her colleagues, and the care they gave me that day. I was gripped by fear and didn’t even want to look at my injury, but after making sure that I had the proper pain relief, she calmly talked me and my husband through what she was going to do. And by the time I’d come back from X-ray she was able to reassure me that I would be okay, and she was able to treat and dress the injury and discharge me in what seemed like a very short period of time – certainly a lot shorter than I’d been expecting.”
After some follow-up appointments in the St Johns Hospital Injury Unit with Suzanne and subsequent referral to the Fracture Unit at University Hospital Limerick, Kate is now fully recovered, and back to enjoying the cycling, running and walking that are her favourite pastimes. She is making sure that all her friends and colleagues know about the services available in the UL Hospitals Group’s Injury Units, following her satisfactory experience at St John’s.
Injuries like Kate’s account for a significant volume of the work that is done in the Injury Units every year. In 2021, a total of 33,853 people attended the three units, 13% more than the total for 2020. And in St John’s Injury Unit alone, a total of 12,668 people attended last year, 8% more than in 2020.
As Kate found, patients, including children over the age of five years, can rest assured of accessing treatment in an Injury Unit in a fraction of the time they would expect to wait in the busy Emergency Department at UHL. One of the key functions of the Group’s three Injury Units is to ensure that the Emergency Department can provide treatment for the most seriously ill or injured patients.
However, RANP Suzanne Lynch is equally keen to ensure that the public take all injuries, even minor injuries, seriously, and to get medical attention if necessary. “Our Injury Units are open to treat injuries like Kate’s seven days a week, 365 days a year. One of the things we’ve noticed in the past year is people not presenting with injuries early. If you have an injury such as a cut, a sprain or a burn, for example, it’s important to get it attended to sooner rather than later. The longer you leave things, the greater the chances are that you will have a more complicated recovery.”
Suzanne also urged people to find out about Injury Unit services available in the hospital closest to where they live and to seek out the most appropriate options for treatment. “Sometimes patients attend with serious, even life-threatening injuries, or perhaps with chest or abdominal pains, and we refer those patients to the Emergency Department, but for all minor injuries, the Injury Units here in St John’s, and in Nenagh and Ennis, should be your first port of call,” says Suzanne.
The Units also treat sports injuries, including hand and ankle injuries, and also remove foreign bodies from the eye, ear and nose. Staff can provide quick access to diagnostics and x-rays, make the necessary arrangements to refer patients to specialist care when required and arrange follow-up appointments within the Injury Unit where necessary.
All Injury Unit services are open seven days, 365 days a year. No appointment is necessary.
For more information on UL Hospitals Group Injury Units, go HERE
For more stories on St Johns Hospital, go HERE