Cavan General Hospital

Members of the HSE Dublin and Northeast Forum visited Cavan General Hospital on Thursday 15th March.

My first comment is that the signposting for the hospital disappears from the Dublin side and should be improved by Cavan County Council.

The hospital itself is on an intimate human scale. The population served is about 133,000. An information pack was supplied when we got there. Councillor Paddy McDonald, David Maxwell and Gerry Murray attended and Councillor Madeleine Argue from Cavan visited.

A&E – This department seems well set out. On entering the building, the triage section is immediately on the right. This leads to the waiting room beside it and A&E proper is on the left. The reception/registration desk is on the right on entering which may be a little confusing but the woman on the desk had a patient calm demeanour.

Physical changes to the building have been made to allow a better patient experience and other units could learn from that. The paediatric service is upstairs with a well directed floor and other signs. The unit itself is a bit like Temple Street with the space limited in 1970s fashion. The parents and staff were organised and babies crying was a familiar sound.

In the oncology unit, there is a big room with chairs which may not be the best for some people in terms of privacy but I am no expert on that.  This area is sensitive and I’m sure that personal support from a collective which may be ideal for some may contrast with the desire of others for single rooms at all times. The service has two consultants tied to the Mater as a base. This is a great convenience for local patients in terms of relief from travel yet getting the same treatment because the hospital has MRI and CT scanners.

The Pulmonary Function lab has good equipment and I wondered did they do exercise stress tests with PO2 etc.

The gastroenterology Endoscopy Unit was very busy when we called. Dr Rajpal was scoping and the staff were busy. I remember him when he worked in Beaumont. The Unit is under pressure which is no surprise.

I looked in to haematology, microbiology and biochemistry and I must say I was impressed. They are doing about 700 – 800 patients per day. In chemistry, they have back to back Abbott Architects and do tumour markers, oestradiol, progesterone, LH and FSH as well as the big 30 routine tests. In microbiology, the first MOLDITOF was installed which will take about 3 years to pay back the cost but then they are on a winner for bacterial identification. Dr Miriam Griffin accompanied us in the laboratory and explained their accreditation with CPA.

Bridget Clarke, the hospital manager, and her senior staff gave adetailed breakdowns of workload and the financial corset that has been imposed. They have to cut €1 Million plus per month and likely will have to close wards. We make the service less efficient to save money because 70% goes on wages.

In usual weeks, there are about 15 bed blockers per day and two in Monaghan hospital. ie People discharged but still in the hospital.

Because of budget cuts, things will get sticky later in the year and many will be upset. I am hearing the same in Beaumont and Connolly. There is a huge crisis on the way.

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