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Ennis Injury Unit proves its worth for patients with minor injuries during pandemic

NNIS-IU-Brenda-Bleach-RANP-1
Brenda Bleach, Advanced Nurse Practitioner at the Injury Unit in Ennis Hospital.

[ENNIS - July 15, 2020]

UL Hospitals Group’s three Injury Units at Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s Hospitals have proven their worth as reliable and safe care providers for minor injuries sustained at home during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

John Lynch, who lives about a 20-minute drive from Ennis in Crusheen, Co Clare, was grateful to be able to attend the Injury Unit in the hospital when he needed treatment for a nasty cement burn injury he sustained while laying a concrete floor at his home.

The expertise of the advanced nurse practitioner (ANP), Brenda Bleach, and her colleagues on duty in the Injury Unit that day, and the calm, professional demeanour of all staff in Ennis Hospital, was hugely reassuring to John, who admits to being of quite a nervous disposition about attending hospitals.

John’s treatment experience at Ennis Hospital is a textbook example of how patients who attend Injury Units benefit from shorter waiting times, and efficient, expert treatment from a range of healthcare professionals, including nurses, doctors, physiotherapists and radiologists.

During the pandemic, and beyond, this level of expertise and service provides a reliable, accessible treatment pathway for a range of minor injuries, and helps to ensure that the Emergency Department at University Hospital Limerick is prioritised for Covid-19 cases and the most seriously ill non-Covid patients. At this time, all patients with minor injuries—such as suspected broken bones, cuts, bruises, sprains and strains—have been redirected to the Injury Units in Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s Hospitals.

John admits that he was reluctant to attend hospital due to his fear of the coronavirus, and had put off seeking medical attention for two days, hoping that the symptoms of his cement burn injury—a severe burning sensation and inflamed skin—would lessen with time. However when they did not, and he decided to attend the injury unit at Ennis, his anxiety and nervousness were quelled almost immediately.

He recalled: “I’d be nervous enough in a hospital, to be honest, and I was a bit worried because I thought I’d be transferred to Limerick or elsewhere. I thought it might have needed specialist treatment. When you’re laying floors or working with cement you have to be careful. I was wearing kneepads, but the floor was wet and I got wet cement on my pants at the shin and it soaked through. When that happens, it can cause the skin to burn. But like a flame burn, if you don’t attend to it, it can blister and get infected. Unfortunately I left it for a couple of days. I thought it would maybe sort itself out, but to be honest I was nervous about going near the hospital at the height of the Covid.”

John added: “I needn’t have worried. Everything was so well organised in the hospital, there was no fuss, I was brought to the unit, and there I met Brenda, and she put my mind at rest immediately. The first thing she did was mark it with a marker to track the extent of the inflammation, then she cleaned around the affected area, dressed it from ankle to knee, and prescribed two antibiotics. And I was in and out in about 20 minutes. It was unreal. I was given a mask and told how to put it on, Brenda gave me the treatment I needed, and that was that. Every box was ticked. I couldn’t praise highly enough the standard of the care. And also, the atmosphere within the hospital—everything was so under control.”

John’s experience did not end there, and he credits the follow-up attendances at the unit with getting him back on his feet and fit for work again in under a month.

“Brenda brought me back to the unit, every two days for three weeks, until she was fully satisfied that the infection was cleared up. At every visit, she was removing the dressing, taking off any of the dying skin, and then re-dressing the leg. She was so thorough and professional, I just couldn’t get over it. It’s not an easy job, and I just couldn’t be happier. I’ve always thought a good health service was so important, and it’s just unreal to think that a service of this standard is available in my own local hospital,” John said.

“If anyone injured themselves at home, and were maybe a little bit uncertain as to what to do, or who to contact, I’d recommend the Injury Unit at Ennis Hospital without any hesitation. They’re absolutely brilliant,” John said.

Brenda Bleach, ANP at Ennis Hospital Injury Unit, explains: “Our Injury Unit is open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm, and we can be contacted on 065-6863121. Every day, I and my Advanced Nurse Practitioner colleagues in all three of the Group’s injury units—as part of teams that include nurses, doctors, physiotherapists and radiologists—see, treat, diagnose and discharge patients from the age of 5 years, treating a range of minor injuries, including broken bones, dislocations, sprains, sports injuries, wounds and burns.”

She explained: “The interactions with John over a three-week period were very important in realising a positive outcome. The main focus of his regular appointments was to ensure the wound would heal, and to avoid any complications that would have arisen from infection.”

Patricia O’Gorman, Director of Nursing at Ennis Hospital, was delighted to hear about John’s positive experience at the Injury Unit, and thanked him for publicly sharing his story so that others might benefit from the efficient and high standard of treatment available for minor injuries, during the pandemic, and at all times.

“I am pleased to hear that John has recovered from his injury, and that he is back at work. We’re very grateful for his generous feedback. John is one of many people who attend our Injury Unit and who, especially during this challenging time for our services, are pleasantly surprised by how efficiently and effectively they can be treated,” Patricia added.

The Injury Units at Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s Hospitals have traditionally played a strong role in alleviating pressure on the Emergency Department at University Hospital Limerick, and especially in recent weeks and months, with the ED ring-fenced for treatment of Covid-19 and seriously ill non-Covid patients.

During 2019, there was an approximate 2% increase in patients attending the three Injury Units, and even with a 3% increase in numbers attending the Ennis unit alone, there is capacity for more. All three units enjoy consistently positive ratings from its patients.

Attendance at the Injury Units costs €75, and there is no charge for patients with full medical cards, or those who have a valid medical/GP referral letter. The Injury Unit at Ennis Hospital is open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, and is contactable on 065-6863121. The unit at Nenagh (seven days, 8am-8pm) can be contacted on 067-42311, while the unit at St John’s Limerick (seven days a week, 8am-7pm) can be contacted on 061-462303. Visit www.hse.ie/injuryunits for further information.