Service user Pat Ryan, Borrisoleigh, pictured in the Heart Failure Support Unit, with Kathryn O’Brien, CNS Heart Failure; and Jacinta Glasgow, CNM2, HFSU.
Staff at Nenagh Hospital started to welcome the first patients through its new Heart Failure Support Unit earlier this year.
Among them were local resident Timothy Ryan, who formally cut the ribbon on the refurbished facility. Timothy was one of the very first people to avail of the service when it first opened in the hospital back in 2012.
Since then, the team behind this important service in Nenagh has been providing specialist care and a chronic disease management programme to people with a diagnosis of heart failure. Thanks to significant financial support from the Friends of Nenagh Hospital and the HSE, the service now has a designated space in the outpatients department following a refurbishment and equipping project.
There are over 90,000 people in Ireland who suffer from heart failure. Heart failure accounts for more than 7% of all hospital admissions; affects about 20% of those over 80 years of age and causes very debilitating symptoms, such as breathlessness, fatigue and fluid retention.
The Heart Failure Support Unit in Nenagh Hospital currently sees approximately 230 patients from north Tipperary, east Clare and east Limerick. The service is led by Consultant Cardiologist Dr Syed F Abbas, and two specialist heart failure nurses, Jacinta Glasgow and Kathryn O’Brien. Clerical support is provided by Agnes Carroll, while two onsite cardiac physiologists ensure timely access to diagnostics, and the Cardiac Rehabilitation Co-ordinator provides exercise programmes for patients attending the service.
“It is very important to retain and develop cardiology services locally in Nenagh and while we have been developing the service since its setup in 2012, we did not have a permanent base from where to operate. Our clinic location until now had moved from day to day, and week to week, reducing efficient use of resources and impacting the growth of the service. In addition elderly frail patients with multiple health issues, or limited mobility and those with worsening heart failure symptoms (increased breathlessness, fatigue, leg swelling) often need unscheduled visits which we can now better accommodate with the new space,” said Jacinta.
“Our new designated space has two consulting rooms, a reception area, an office, a bathroom and is all fully wheelchair accessible. The team are delighted to be welcoming our first patients through our new unit this week. It provides patients with greater comfort, a more pleasant and safer environment, and additional physical space, which is more important in the current climate. From a staffing perspective it will allow us to be more efficient and to continue to develop the service all under one roof.”
The Heart Failure Support Unit has, since the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, continued to provide a service through a combination of face-to-face urgent care and virtual clinics, in addition to the heart failure nurse specialist helpline. During 2020, there were a total of 699 clinic attendances, compared to 920 in 2019. However the new virtual clinic reviewed 103 patients while 1,690 calls were dealt with on the helpline.
Cathrina Ryan, Operational Director of Nursing, Nenagh Hospital, added, “We are very grateful to the Friends of Nenagh Hospital for their continued support in developing services and improving patient experience in Nenagh. We are also grateful for the support of the HSE nationally and this is a vote of confidence in the service and the dedicated staff providing it.”
Among the first patients through the new unit this week were Michael Flynn, Killaloe, Patrick Ryan, Borrisoleigh, as well as Timothy Ryan, from Tyone, Nenagh, who cut the ribbon on the facility.
“It’s a great honour for me to have been asked by the team at the Heart Failure Support Unit to formally open their refurbished facilities. I was one of the first people to be referred to this team in Nenagh Hospital back in 2012, and the service has been second to none. I attend for review twice a year, and it is great to see the team get the space and the facilities they deserve. The Heart Failure Support Unit team have provided me with an invaluable service, and I’m very glad to have been invited to this special day for them,” Timothy said.
Timothy’s wife Mary described the Heart Failure Support Unit team as a “lifeline” for her husband. “They have provided Timothy with an absolutely invaluable service. The expertise of the team gives great peace of mind, and to have this service more or less on our doorstep, very close to our home here in Nenagh, and not have to worry about accessing or parking, is a great bonus. It’s a very stress-free service, and Timothy could not be in better hands.”