Described as a “godsend” by the people who benefit from the service, the Community Intervention Team (CIT) in Kerry is a specialist nurse-led service which can allow people to avoid a hospital stay or leave hospital earlier than would have otherwise been possible.
The team are proud that they continued to provide an interrupted service during Covid-19, and in fact saw an 88% increase in referrals during 2020, saving close to 1,000 hospital bed nights.
The team, which began in 2012 and has grown constantly since then, holds daily clinics in Tralee, and provides home visits within 45kms of Tralee. Establishing satellite clinics in Dingle, Glenbeigh, Listowel and most recently Killarney has allowed the team to treat patients from an even wider area.
Portmagee resident Patrick O’Sullivan is among the many Kerry people who have benefitted from the CIT service, and says that the team’s intervention (providing IV antimicrobial treatment at a clinic) meant he avoided six weeks in hospital. “I'm from Portmagee and I came up to the health centre in Glenbeigh for my treatment. The service was wonderful in Glenbeigh,” he said.
Another grateful user of the service is Ursula McCarthy from Tralee, who developed septic arthritis and faced a six-week stay in hospital in Dublin for intravenous antibiotics between surgeries.
However, she was referred to CIT Kerry through the national OPAT programme to complete the final four weeks of treatment at home.
“I think it is an excellent service. I wouldn't have been able to complete treatment at home if the service wasn't there,” she said.
There are seven nurses working on the team - Antoinette Boyd CNM1, Mary Kavanagh CNM1, Breda Lyons RGN, Claire Kiely RGN, Claire O’ Connor RGN, Trisha Tangney RGN, and Kate Dunne RGN, along with administrative officer Mary Ann Kelly and manager Mary Harty ADPHN.
The service provides a rapid and integrated response to patients with acute episodes of illness who require enhanced services for a defined short period of time – often in a patient’s own home, residential care setting or at a clinic in the community. While CIT is primarily clinic-based, the team will always provide home visits where necessary depending on clinical need and on compassionate grounds.
Community oncology is a substantial part of the team’s work, including support the CUH satellite oncology unit which runs out of UHK. The team can facilitate pre-chemotherapy blood tests and assessments, disconnection of chemotherapy pumps and administering post chemotherapy injections – all saving patients time in a hospital setting, and reducing the number of hospital visits they need to make.
Michael O’Brien was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2012 and has been a client of the CIT service for the past three years and says his referral to Kerry CIT was a ‘godsend’:
“If I have any concerns, you know, if something's bothering me or whatever, I can bounce it off them and they can give me advice or tell me who to see or what to do’.