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UL Hospitals Group Staff Recognition Awards 2019 UL Hospitals Group Staff Recognition Awards 2019


UL Hospitals Group Staff Recognition Awards 2019 Celebrate Unsung Heroes

UL Hospitals Group Staff Recognition Awards 2019 – Colette Cowan presents the award for Innovation in a Non-Clinical Area to the Catering Team from St John’s Hospital, from left, Veinish Sevillo, Margaret Sheehan, Elma Herbert, Susan Hartigan, Rose Leo Breda Laffin and Emer Martin, Deputy Chief Executive.

UL Hospitals Group Staff Recognition Awards 2019 Celebrate Unsung Heroes

The UL Hospitals Group Staff Recognition Awards are held annually to celebrate the achievements of staff working in dozens of services across the group.

Individuals and teams are nominated by colleagues and just under 100 entries were received from all six hospitals this year ahead of the UL Hospitals Group Staff Recognition Awards 2019 night at the Strand Hotel, hosted by James Sexton.




UL Hospitals Group has over 4,000 staff and entrants were narrowed down to a shortlist of 24 finalists across eight patient categories: Patient Experience, Innovation in a Clinical Area, Innovation in a Non-Clinical Setting, Education and Training, Research, Best Team, Quality Improvement and Unsung Hero.

Each winner in the UL Hospitals Group Staff Recognition Awards 2019 was presented with a framed certificate and trophy by Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group, who said: “I was delighted to see the calibre of people, teams and projects that were shortlisted for the awards. Recognising the great work that staff do across the Group in all our hospitals is very important for the ongoing development and improvement of services for our patients. The level of ingenuity, care and passion that is demonstrated by staff is on a par with any other hospital group in the country.”

High levels of patient satisfaction were evident from the results of the National Patient Experience Survey 2018, Ms Cowan said, and it was important to know that staff were valued by the most important judges of all – their patients. The UL Hospitals Group Staff Recognition Awards 2019, she added, were a simple way of showing that staff were also valued by their peers and by the management team.

“What patients and the public at large may not always fully appreciate is the degree of education and training that is part and parcel of being a healthcare professional today; the long hours away from the clinical setting involved in research and innovation that is driving improvements in our services and resulting in better outcomes for our patients. These awards recognise the long hours put in at the library and in the laboratory every bit as much as on the wards. Of course, the science is not pursued as an arcane end in itself but always with an eye on the practical applications for improving patient outcomes,” Ms Cowan said.

Ms Cowan thanked the panel of judges who faced a difficult task in whittling down the 24 nominees to eight eventual winners. The judging panel comprised Caroline Byrne, Managing Director, Global Diagnostics; Jason Kenny, Bons Secours Hospital Limerick; Maria Godley, Alliance Medical; Graham Knowles, Chairman, UL Hospitals Group; Prof Rachel Msetfi, Dean of Faculty Education and Health Sciences; University of Limerick; Dr James Ring, CEO, Ingenium Training and Consultancy and John Hanafin, Chairman, Patient Experience Council, UL Hospitals Group.

Winners on the night included the Stroke Early Supported Discharge team at University Hospital Limerick, who were named Best Team. This multidisciplinary team (Edel Hennessy, Physiotherapist; Sinead Taylor and Eva Murphy, Occupational Therapists; Nora Cunningham, Candidate Advanced Nurse Practitioner Stroke; and Dr John McManus, Dr Margaret O’Connor and the Stroke Consultants) was established in November 2017. There is significant evidence (Cochrane Review) that stroke patients who access Early Supported Discharge Services are more likely to be independent and living at home six months after their stroke. The ESD Team in UHL saw 40 patients in the first six months of 2018 and access to an ESD service can save on average six days per patient.

The ESD team has recently expanded its catchment area for the service from within a 10km radius of UHL to a 30-minute drive of the hospital, taking in locations as far away as Charleville, Rathkeale and Clarecastle. The number of patients seen by the ESD team in Limerick compares well to the national average given the relative team sizes and UHL has no waiting time for the service at present. Improved patient outcomes have been recorded in respect of patients’ functional independence and quality of life outcomes are currently being investigated by the ESD Team. The Best Team awarded was presented on the night by two members of another winning outfit, Limerick senior hurlers Sean Finn and William O’Donoghue.

The End PJ Paralysis team at Nenagh Hospital won the category for Innovation in a Clinical Area. This team includes Aoife Synnott and Michelle Maher, Physiotherapists; Helen Nolan, Physiotherapy Assistant; and Bridget Kelly and Elaine O’Sullivan (both clinical nurse managers on the medical wards). The #endpjparalysis campaign in Nenagh aims to reduce harm, enhance the dignity and promote speedier recovery and reduce the length of stay for elderly patients. Patients over 80 who spend more than 10 days in a hospital can lose 10% of muscle tone as deconditioning is a major cause of prolonged harm during and following admission.

The #endpjparalysis project in Nenagh worked with these patients and their families to get the patients out of bed and dressed during their admission to maintain mobility, function and identity. There have been encouraging early results from the pilot project and data continues to be collected pending a final report.

The winner in the Education and Training Category was Cecilia O’Sullivan a staff nurse from Ennis Hospital. Cecelia has over 20 years of experience at home and abroad and joined UL Hospitals Group in 2000. She worked in the Emergency Department in UHL before transferring to the Injury Unit/Medical Assessment Unit in Ennis in 2015. Cecilia trains staff in basic and advanced life support skills, essential for stabilising patients for transfer. Staff can become deskilled if they don’t encounter serious events such as cardiac arrest on a frequent basis and regular training and refresher courses are essential.

A natural educator whose training sessions are very popular and well-supported, Cecilia has greatly eased any fear and anxiety for Ennis nursing staff taking advanced cardiac life support training. Outside of Ennis Hospital, Cecelia volunteers for the Community Games and Irish Water Safety. According to Dr Tom Peirce, Consultant, Medical Assessment Unit, Ennis: “Cecelia is extremely conscientious and always goes that extra step to help the patients”.

The other category winners were as follows:

Quality Improvement

Winner: Paediatric Diabetes Team, UHL

PAEDIATRIC diabetes patients at University Hospital Limerick are reviewed within the minimum three-month intervals recommended internationally but this can come at the expense of long clinic wait times at UHL, resulting in dissatisfaction among patients and their families. Many of these young patients are now using diabetes-related technologies (insulin pumps, glucose monitors etc.) which provide downloadable data. UHL has piloted a “virtual clinic” using Skype for Business, offering patients and their families the option of having their review clinic at home.

Feedback from the pilot has been positive with less disruption to family life; less time off school/work; time savings; reduced costs in terms of lost work hours/parking fees etc. No adverse incidents were observed. Although telemedicine is not a new concept, active utilisation in the paediatric domain is limited and this pilot will be the first published paediatric cohort detailing use of a “virtual clinic” telemedicine style format from an Irish paediatric population. The next phase of the project will include opening up access to virtual clinics to the wider clinic population.

The Paediatric Diabetes Team are Dr Orla Neylon and Prof Clodagh O’Gorman, consultants; clinical nurse specialists Anne Quinn, Mary Norris and Maria Kelly-Conroy; dietitian Therese Dunne and Niall Collins and Paul Sadlier, IT consultants, UL GEMS.

Innovation In a Non-Clinical Area:

Winner: Catering Team, St John’s Hospital

Winners in this category were the Catering Team at St John’s Hospital led by Elma Herbert, catering manager, and chefs Rose Leo, Breda O’Connor and Susan Hartigan. In striving to achieve the national standards set out by HIQA and the Department of Health, the focus of the catering team has been “on fresh food, delivered in a safe manner while respecting the needs of each patient and treating them as individuals and with dignity and respect”.

The team has in recent years overseen the introduction of additional hydration and fresh fruit rounds and the development of a new menu book to include three-week cycles for standard meals; diabetic/healthy eating meals; renal and coeliac meals as well as new vegan and vegetarian menus. Staff have also worked with the speech and language therapist and a chef with a special interest in dysphasia cooking to develop a texture menu. The catering staff place great emphasis on the human touch at mealtimes taking great effort to know their patients’ preferences and speak to them by name. Patient satisfaction was evident in the National Patient Experience Survey 2018 with 85% of patients describing the food at St John’s Hospital as good or very good, significantly above the national average.

Best Research:

Winner: REDSPoT

REDSPoT (Retrieval, Emergency and Disaster Medicine Research and Development Unit at UHL) is the research group based at the Emergency Department in UHL and was established by Emergency Medicine Consultants Prof Fergal Cummins and Associate Professor Damien Ryan in 2010. Research Nurse Una Cronin was appointed to the team in March 2018. The REDSPoT team is directly linked to the Health Research Institute at the University of Limerick and strives to improve patient experience by investigating optimal emergency care and to identify important factors affecting ED patients with the aim of influencing and shaping best practice.

To date, the group has had over 200 publications and presentations under its name. They have been responsible for publishing, coordinating and leading seminal studies within UHL ED: randomised controlled trials, interprofessional studies and pre-hospital care projects. The Group is currently overseeing 30 research, audit and quality improvement plans (QIPs) in patient care, process and innovation within the ED. There are currently over 50 doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, design engineers, researchers and pre-hospital care teams collaborating on projects with REDSPoT.

Best Patient Experience:

Winner: Triona Neenan, University Hospital Limerick

Triona Neenan is a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) in oncology based at University Hospital Limerick. She coordinates the care of people with prostate, urological and gynaecological cancers; sarcomas and brain tumours.  Colleagues who nominated Triona felt one of the things which marked her out as an exceptional nurse was her compassion and expertise in looking after people with brain tumours and their families; helping them deal with the personality changes that can alter the family dynamic and the varied and difficult side effects of treatment.

Triona is involved in ongoing audits, quality improvement projects and other initiatives as an individual and as part of the multidisciplinary team. For example, she is instrumental in the running of the Oral Drug Clinic for patients taking oral anti-cancer therapies and devised a Treatment Diary to help keep an accurate record of required investigations and treatments.

UL Hospitals Group Staff Recognition Awards 2019

All Ireland winners Sean Finn and William O’Donoghue with UL Hospitals Group’s Unsung Hero 2019, Healthcare Assistant, Mary Hynan from Cappamore

Unsung Hero:

Winner: Mary Hynan, University Hospital Limerick

Mary Hynan is a healthcare assistant on Ward 1D, University Hospital Limerick. Mary is described by colleagues on the ward as “the mammy to all staff and patients on 1D for the last 17 years.  Mary is a shoulder to cry on and whenever there is a patient who is feeling down or uncommunicative, Mary is the one to bring them out of themselves with a sympathetic ear and some comforting words”.

Mary, from Cappamore, County Limerick, has a natural sense of knowing what the right thing to say and do is for her patients. Her kindness is regularly commented on in thank you cards patients send to the ward. Mary always knows where everything is and exactly how much is needed in the ward. She is due to retire in September 2019 and will be “irreplaceable” according to colleagues who nominated her for the Unsung Hero award.

Two special CEO Awards were presented on the night to the Main Reception team at University Hospital Limerick and for the Bed Management/Patient Flow team at UL Hospitals Group.

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Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.