At Nenagh Hospital were patient Rose Sheary, seated centre between Olivia Quinn, Respiratory Clinical Nurse Specialist and Paula Ryan, Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Respiratory; and standing left to ri
Services for patients with chronic respiratory conditions continue to expand at Nenagh Hospital with a new monthly clinic for patients with Interstitial Lung Disease / Pulmonary Fibrosis.
The new service facilitates patients with this serious and debilitating condition and avoids the inconvenience of a long journey to UHL or another major centre.
It follows the opening in 2017 of a nurse-led Respiratory Assessment Unit in Nenagh that has seen 732 attendances in its first year.
Nenagh Hospital had no specialist respiratory service prior to 2010, when a pulmonary rehabilitation programme was established by Olivia Quinn, Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), Respiratory, and Brian Fitzgibbon, Physiotherapist.
Over time, Ms Quinn started to see inpatients with respiratory conditions; an outpatient clinic was established; and sleep studies and basic pulmonary function testing also began to be carried out in Nenagh.
The Respiratory Assessment Unit, led by Ms Quinn and Paula Ryan, Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP), Respiratory, UL Hospitals Group, opened in Nenagh in early 2017.
“The major benefit,” explained Ms Ryan “is that we now have an ANP and a CNS working together in an assessment unit that is available to patients in Nenagh five days a week. In my role as an ANP, I can see patients who are currently on a two-year waiting list to see a consultant and take them from initial assessment through their complete episode of care as an autonomous practitioner. I will of course confer with the consultants in UHL where we have any issues but it has meant improved access for patients in Nenagh. It also means that for patients who have been on waiting lists, their respiratory disease is optimised, which prevents antibiotics and steroids, and on occasion, even hospitalisation.”
As well as improved outcomes for Tipperary patients, it also means better access to respiratory services locally.
The clinic in Nenagh sees patients with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma, bronchiectasis and other conditions.
In addition, satellite clinics have opened in Nenagh and Ennis hospitals in 2018 specifically for the management of patients with one of the most serious respiratory conditions, Interstitial Lung Disease/Pulmonary Fibrosis. There is no cure or no known cause for pulmonary fibrosis and life expectancy upon diagnosis is typically three to five years.
Six patients currently attend the monthly ILD Clinic in Nenagh and approximately 20 in the corresponding clinic in Ennis.
Ms Quinn said: “For this particular group of patients, having a service available locally makes a huge difference. For a patient with ILD to go to Limerick; to get parking; to walk from the reception to outpatients can be a huge ordeal. They have to carry an oxygen tank and can get very breathless.”
The ILD Clinic is nurse-led and comes under the clinical governance of Dr Brian Casserly and Dr Aidan O’Brien, respiratory consultants.
Rose Sheary, a respiratory patient from Nenagh, said: “My experience here has been wonderful and I can get all the information and advice I need right here in Nenagh whether I come in person or I am on the other end of the phone. The nurses are always available to talk to me and provide that reassurance no matter what state of mind I might be in. I am delighted with the service in Nenagh now and very grateful for it.”
Cathrina Ryan, Operational Director of Nursing, Nenagh Hospital, said: "Expansion of this service locally has ensured Nenagh patients have access to prompt advice and support, assisting them to manage their own conditions and ensuring early diagnosis and treatments when needed, often preventing hospital admissions. This service is a great example of what can be achieved through specialist nurse-led clinics.”
Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group, said: “The development of the Respiratory Assessment Unit and the Satellite ILD Clinic in Nenagh is a great example of what we can achieve in expanding the range of specialist services in Model 2 hospitals.”
The announcement has been welcomed by local Labour TD Alan Kelly who said: "The expansion of services for respiratory patients at Nenagh Hospital, the availability of specialist advice and support locally will be of huge benefit to patients and their families."
He congratulated the team at Nenagh Hospital and in the HSE Mid West, pointing out that there was now an extensive range of services at the hospital.