The construction of the long-awaited hospital expansion at Portiuncula Hospital is set to begin in the coming weeks.
The development will see a new 50-bed ward added to the hospital that has felt the brunt of a shortage of beds across Irish hospitals over recent years, it won’t add to the total bed tally – merely refresh the original number in a modern layout!
The replacement unit which was included under the new HSE Capital Plan 2019 – 2021, includes the replacement 50 bedded ward block, fire safety works, and lift replacement programme, had been due for completion in April. The 4,038sqm building which will cost approximately €25m is now expected to be completed by the middle of 2023.
“It is hard to believe that it has taken nearly three years since I secured the commitment for the ward block development at Portiuncula Hospital from the then Health Minister Simon Harris, but I now hope that the final legal issues can be completed and a contract signed to start the construction of this vital project,” said TD Denis Naughten.
Naughten described the progress on the development as “frustratingly slow” and that the delays in the completion of the project had led to “serious overcrowding” at the hospital.
Planning permission was first granted for the project in July of 2017 and was set to expire in August of this year. The HSE were granted an extension of planning permission for the construction of the new ward block by the county council and stated that the extension was needed due to “financial concerns, requirement of enabling works to prepare for development, phasing works under a separate contract, and the unexpected delays such as Covid.” A contractor has now been selected for the project and hopes to start the build.
A new CT scanner will become operational at the Hospital by the end of July. Councillor Evelyn Parsons believes the equipment highlights a commitment to the investment and expansion of radiology services at the facility and allows the hospital to provide a high quality of care. “I had previously raised concerns over the frequent breakdown of the previous scanner, however, the HSE has now confirmed that building works to accommodate the new machine is at an advanced stage,” stated Cllr. Parsons. A temporary CT scanner is now on site and is currently being used to ensure appointments continue.
The results of a national survey were published recently, revealing the experience of patients at public hospitals last year. The National Inpatient Experience Survey covered a range of criteria, including admission, hospital environment, etc. asked patients to rate, out of ten, a wide range of criteria about their time spent in hospital, from beginning to end.
Portiuncula Hospital was rated 8 on Admissions; 7.9 on Care in the Ward; 7.5 on Examinations, Diagnosis and Treatment; 6.4 on Discharge or Transfer; 7.2 on Care During the Pandemic; and 7.9 on overall experience. Out of the 40 hospitals that took part, Portiuncula ranked 29th in the country.
The feedback showcased that areas of good patient experience included being treated with respect and dignity, cleanliness of rooms and wards, privacy while being examined or treated, confidence and trust in hospital staff, and pain management. Areas needing improvement included the availability of emotional support, time to discuss care and treatment with a doctor, information on how to manage a condition after leaving hospital, and the opportunity for families to talk to a doctor.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) Trolley Watch reports that Data collected from the month of May showed a steep decrease in the number of patients waiting for beds. There were just 24 patients waiting on trolleys in the hospital come mid-May which were the lowest numbers in the midwestern region. The figures showed a 90% decrease from the same stage in April when some 125 patients were on trolleys and a 64% decrease from May 2021 when 34 patients waited on trolleys.
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