Katie Sheehan, outgoing Assistant Director of Nursing, Croom Orthopaedic Hospital (from) with, from left: Eimear Breen, CNM2; Aideen Barrow, A/CNM; and Mary Russell, CNM3, Croom Orthopaedic Hospital
Orthopaedic services in the Mid West, which includes North Tipperary, have received a major boost with the opening of a new €15m theatre at Croom Orthopaedic Hospital.
The new facility akes it the country's most modern operating theatre suite.
The theatre suite has four operating theatres (increasing the hospital’s surgical capacity volume by 100 per cent), a new Sterile Services Department, a reception area, a first stage recovery room and other ancillary support spaces.
It is a key part of the effort to rejuvenate and develop Croom Orthopaedic Hospital as a beacon of surgical and nursing excellence and professional advancement, with major benefits for patient experience in the Mid-West.
The new complex is situated on the first floor of the hospital’s state-of-the-art Maigue Unit, which has been developed as part of the nationally-funded UL Hospitals Group response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the region, and with funding from the Mid-Western Hospitals Development Trust. The Trust acknowledged the significant contribution from the JP McManus Pro-Am, without whose assistance this new complex would not have been completed.
An appropriately high-specification complement to the 24 en-suite single rooms on the ground floor of the Maigue Unit, the new theatre complex benefits not just from architectural and construction excellence, but also from the attention to detail in the design and build, which took account of inputs from a multidisciplinary blend of stakeholders, including nursing and theatre staff, nurse management, surgeons, infection prevention and control, and operational services.
For Colette Cowan, chief executive officer of UL Hospitals Group, the opening of the theatre suite has been particularly welcome, given her passionate advocacy for the ongoing development of Croom Orthopaedic Hospital into a healthcare facility without parallel in terms of training, development, standards of care and patient experience.
“This is a hugely important day in the history of Croom Orthopaedic Hospital, which is one of the most venerable hospitals in this part of Ireland. Now, thanks to the efforts and input of so many stakeholders, and the great work of HSE Capital & Estates, the design team, and the main contractor Clancy Construction, it stands proudly among the finest hospitals in the country.
"It’s a facility that is worthy of our excellent staff and nothing less than the patients of this region deserve.
"I wish everyone well as they begin to work in the new facility and write new and ever more exciting chapters in the ongoing success story of Croom Orthopaedic Hospital,” Ms Cowan said.
Chief clinical director of UL Hospitals Group, Prof Brian Lenehan, an orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital, said he was immensely proud not just of the new suite and what it represents, but also of everyone involved in the design and build.
“This is the premier operating theatre suite in Ireland,” Prof Lenehan said. “Up until now, the facilities here have been very dated, with only two theatres and a very small Sterile Services Department to cater for the high volume of orthopaedic procedures. Now, we have a very large theatre complex with which we will be able to expand our outputs by 100 per cent, and a Sterile Services Department that is now fit for purpose and future-proofed.”
Opening on a phased basis, the new suite, when fully operational, will take Croom from a hospital with five operating surgeons in two theatres, to 10 surgeons in four theatres catering for a range of orthopaedic disciplines including hips, knees, spine, foot, ankle, shoulder, sports knee, and ambulatory trauma, as well as general surgery, including vascular, ENT and maxillofacial.
“There won’t be a hospital like this built in Ireland in the next five years,” Prof Lenehan stated.
While the developments were initiated in Spring 2020 as part of the national pandemic response, they also mark the coming to fruition of plans developed over many years, and championed and pursued by the UL Hospitals Group CEO Colette Cowan and her executive management team, working together with the assistant national director of HSE estates Joe Hoare.
For Katie Sheehan, assistant director of nursing at Croom Orthopaedic Hospital, the development of the Maigue Unit and the theatre suites are an investment of faith in the dedication and commitment of staff at the hospital.
Ms Sheehan started her career in this hospital in 1980, and, after spells in numerous other hospitals, returned in 2016 as assistant director of nursing.
Fittingly for someone whose first job was in this hospital, these forward-looking developments will be the final project she oversees before her retirement.
Croom Orthopaedic Hospital first opened as the County Hospital in Limerick in 1924, and has been an orthopaedic hospital since 1956, save for two months in mid-2020, when it accepted its first medical patients in almost 70 years as part of the group’s strategy for managing a surge in non-Covid admissions.
UL Hospitals Group’s chief director of nursing and midwifery, Margaret Gleeson, said the opening of the new theatre suite was exciting not just from a technological and infrastructural perspective, but also from the huge potential the complex offers for training and development.
Recruitment for staffing of the new theatres continues, and Lorraine Rafter, Director of HR for UL Hospitals Group, said this latest phase in the ongoing developments presented a unique opportunity to increase the workforce at Croom Orthopaedic Hospital.
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