30th June 2020 Greg Ashe whose St John’s Injury Unit visit accelerated his recovery
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen attendances at Emergency Departments around the country drop significantly but the public are being urged not to ignore injuries that need hospital attention.
Injury Units around the country are proving their worth as reliable and safe care providers for patients with minor injuries sustained at home during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Greg Ashe, from Co Limerick, was grateful to be able to attend St John’s Injury Unit for treatment when he injured himself at home, and it’s a decision he feels may have accelerated his recovery.
Greg’s treatment at St John’s for a deep, wide tear on the shin is a good example of how patients benefit from efficient, expert treatment from a range of medical expertise, including doctors, nurses and Advanced Nurse Practitioners, while ensuring that the region’s ED at University Hospital Limerick is prioritised for the most seriously ill patients.
During the pandemic, all patients in the area with minor injuries—such as suspected broken bones, cuts, bruises, sprains and strains—are being redirected to the Injury Units in St John’s, Ennis and Nenagh for treatment.
And when Greg injured his leg when he walked into the end of a folded down lawnmower handle in his shed on April 7th, he knew the deep, wide V-shaped laceration would require stitches at least. As it was after six o’clock, Greg saved valuable minutes by phoning a friend who worked in UHL, who advised him to attend St John’s Injury Unit.
“I was fortunate that I listened to my friend, because I arrived at 6.40pm, and was promptly seen by the registrar on duty, who cleaned the injury, a pre-tibial laceration, and closed the V-shaped tear with 12 stitches,” he recalled.
However, it was in the aftermath of this initial treatment that Greg says the personnel of the Injury Unit really came into their own.
“The severity of the wound was such that it was always going to be a long, slow healing process. Before the stitches were removed 10 days later, the wound was reviewed by the registrar and the dressing changed twice. When he removed the stiches, there was evidence of infection, and this was treated with antibiotics,” said Greg.
The treatment took another step forward when Advanced Nurse Practitioner Suzanne Lynch, observing that most of the torn skin on Greg’s wound was no longer viable, proposed the use of a hi-tech Pico dressing and ongoing regular review of the injury.
“This was a crucial ‘sliding doors’ moment. Suzanne has taken a great professional interest in this case. She has shown that ANPs are so much more than the ‘nurses in a navy blue’ I previously regarded them as. I’ve been so fortunate for the treatment and ongoing reviews of my injury, and it’s clear to me that the Pico dressing has accelerated the healing process by a matter of weeks,” Greg said.
“Suzanne and her colleagues have been friendly and attentive on each of my many visits to the unit. And one visit even involved hair removal, moisturising and exfoliation of the injured area, so it’s been as good as any spa treatment!” Greg laughed.
“Obviously, I was concerned about this having happened during the pandemic, but the Injury Unit at St John’s has provided me with great peace of mind, and a level of care that’s second to none. Thank you to all at St John’s Injury Unit,” he said.
ANP Suzanne explained, “St John’s Injury Unit is now open from 8am-7pm, Monday to Sunday. We see non-life and non-limb threatening injuries. Emergency Advanced Nurse Practitioners in all three of our injury units see, treat, diagnose and discharge patients on a daily basis. We see patients from the age of five years up, treating a range of minor injuries: from broken bones, sprains, sports injuries, wounds and burns.”
She added, “My interactions with Greg over these past number of weeks have been paramount to a good outcome, the healing wound and the avoidance of a skin graft surgery being my main focus. While an Injury Unit is a quicker and more efficient pathway to have your injury treated, we kindly ask the public to be mindful that waiting times could exist while numbers attending rise.”
Emer Martin, Chief Executive Officer at St John’s Hospital, was delighted to hear about Greg’s positive experience at the Injury Unit, and thanked him for publicly sharing his story so that others might benefit from the efficient and high standard of treatment available for minor injuries, during the pandemic, and at all times.
“Greg is just one of many people who attend our Injury Unit and who, even at this challenging time for our health services, are frequently astonished by how efficiently and effectively they can be treated,” she said.