Minister marks commencement of €13 million development at St. Luke’s General Hospital Carlow/Kilkenny.

The Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government Mr. Phil Hogan, TD visited St Luke’s General Hospital in Kilkenny to officiate at a ceremony to “turn the sod” commencing a €13 million development.

Last year, the HSE welcomed an announcement by Minister Hogan that €13 million funding was available to proceed with this priority redevelopment. The construction project features a new Emergency Dept., Acute Medical Assessment Unit,Day Services Unit (dedicated to the late Susie Long), Library/Education Centre (part funded by the UL – the University of Limerick and the RCSI – Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) and new hospital entrance and concourse.

As the area identified for the redevelopment in St. Luke’s had been in use as a car park, enabling works have been underway since earlier this year to relocate such facilities and to provide new car parking capacity. Following the “sod turning” by Minister Hogan, the next step in the project is the actual construction of the new building. This work is being carried out by Walls Construction Ltd. and is due for completion in June 2014.

Whilst at St. Luke’s, the Minister also visited the X-Ray Department to see the new digital imaging system (NIMIS). The Minister also met staff at the Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit and the Newborn Hearing Screening Service in the Maternity Department.

The new Emergency Department (ED) in St. Luke’s will include a Waiting area, Triage Area, a three bay resuscitation area and separate paediatric resuscitation bay – all with X-ray facilities. There will also be an eight cubicle major treatment and examination area, a separate paediatric treatment area, a minor treatment area and a bereaved relatives room. Ancillary clinical support accommodation will be provided.  The ED will be at ground floor level and have separate entrances for ambulant and ambulance patients. It will provide a state of the art environment for patients from the Carlow/Kilkenny area.

The new Acute Medical Assessment Unit (AMAU) will be a 10 bed unit located adjacent to the ED so as to facilitate the effective operation of both departments. The principal areas of accommodation will be two four bay assessment areas, two isolation rooms, a treatment room and support accommodation. The AMAU will streamline the assessment of patients with emergency medical presentations while using shared facilities with the ED in line with the new Acute Medicine Programme.

The Day Services Unit (dedicated to the late Susie Long) will be located at first floor level and will provide accommodation for patients attending for: endoscopy (including colonoscopy), day surgery (including general surgery and gynaecology), medical investigations and treatment and dental surgery.  The principle elements of the accommodation will include 24 trolley bays, two single treatment rooms, two procedure rooms, two endoscopy rooms, a 10 patient discharge area and support accommodation.

The new concourse and entrance will allow the development to be linked to the main hospital complex.  This link will allow access to CT and other diagnostic imaging facilities and also be the route to admit patients to ward accommodation. The link at first floor level will be used to transfer patients attending for day procedures from the new Day Services Unit to the Theatre block.

The new library and education centre – part funded by UL, the RCSI and the HSE – will embrace all aspects of medical education and continuing professional development. It will have two tutorial rooms, two seminar rooms, extensive book and journal displays, up to 40 reading spaces, e- journal/book access, wi-fi, videoconferencing, meeting areas and tutor offices. The remit of library and education services is to provide access for doctors, nurses and professions allied to medicine (hospital and community) to a comprehensive range of evidence-based, up-to-date knowledge resources.

Speaking at the Ceremony, Minister Hogan said:

“This is a good day for acute hospital services in Carlow and Kilkenny. I look forward to returning to mark the completion of this project, for which so many people have worked so hard. I hope that theexpansion in capacity to St. Luke’s Emergency Department will lead to improved admission times for patients and enable the hospital to fully comply with my colleague Minister James Reilly’s Special Delivery Unit guidelines. The new ED will also provide a much enhanced environment for patients and for the staff working in the Department. St. Luke’s has already been a role model to other hospitals in efficiency of service and throughput of patient and I’m sure that having a new Acute Medical Assessment Unit will be a big boost for all concerned. I’m also heartened to be joined here today by the family of the late Susie Long, to mark the coming to fruition of a project close to their hearts – namely the dedicated Day Services Unit. Her untimely passing in 2007 affected us all and today marks delivery of a promise made to her. The transformation of St. Luke’s General Hospital Carlow/Kilkenny will be completed by the construction of a new concourse and entrance and will certainly be the modernising facelift in keeping with the hospital’s strong reputation for facing forwards.”

Welcoming Minister Hogan to St. Luke’s for the Ceremony, Ms. Anna Marie Lanigan (HSE Carlow/Kilkenny Area Manager) said:

“On my own behalf and that of, Mr. Pat Healy (Regional Director of Operations, HSE South), Ms. Anne Slattery (General Manager, St. Luke’s GH) and of all involved in the provision of acute health care in counties Carlow and Kilkenny, I am delighted to be here for the “turning the sod” at St Luke’s General Hospital to mark commencement of the hospitals €13 million capital development project. In thanking the Minister for his support, I also welcome Susie Long’s family: Conor and Aine, to whom the day services unit is dedicated in Susie’s memory. Over the years St. Luke’s General Hospital has been to the fore in relation to innovation and development. The project starting construction will totally transform the hospital and provide the necessary infrastructure for a future ‘state of the art’ hospital at St. Luke’s. I’d like to acknowledge the generous contribution from the University of Limerick and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, as St. Luke’s has a long tradition of education and training and this development will provide the necessary facilities for all healthcare staff in Carlow /Kilkenny. Today, however, is not solely about the development of infrastructure but about the provision of a facility where the quality of care delivered to the patient and their families is enhanced. The HSE is committed to the promotion of day surgery and day case treatment and the new unit will provide improved access for diagnostic procedures, such as endoscopy and colonoscopy. Emergency services at St. Luke’s are well managed and I am delighted to see that the first integrated AMAU and ED department will be built here. The adjacency of the new units maximises resource utilisation through shared use of resuscitation facilities and staff with specific expertise in emergency care.”

Dr Garry Courtney, Clinical Director, St. Luke’s Hospital Kilkenny said the plans for the new development being viewed marked the project’s progress and added:

“On behalf of all my colleagues in St Luke’s I want to say how pleased I am that the new Emergency Department and Acute Medical Assessment Unit are progressing. I am particularly pleased that the new Day Services Unit is progressing, enabling us to deliver on a promise we made to the late Susie Long who campaigned for such a facility. The new Unit will increase the Hospital’s capacity to provide endoscopy procedures (including colonoscopies) for patients and ensure we can meet the ever increasing demand for these services into the future. The new ED and AcuteMedical Assessment Unit will further enhance the delivery of emergency services to the population of Carlow/Kilkenny. I also welcome the special support of the University of Limerick and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland towards the Library Education centre development and this will greatly enhance facilities for all the undergraduate and postgraduate students across many disciplines on this campus.”