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Expert staff and reduced waiting times at St John’s Injury Unit

Suzanne Lynch, Registered Advanced Nurse Practitioner in the Injury Unit at St John's Hospital, Limerick

With Christmas fast approaching and cold weather settling across the Mid-West, UL Hospitals Group is reminding Limerick residents that the Injury Unit at St John’s Hospital is open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, for treatment of a range of minor injuries.

St John’s Injury Unit is one of 11 across the country, and one of three in the UL Hospitals Group, with the other units for the Mid-West located in Ennis Hospital and Nenagh Hospital.

Patients aged 5 and over can be treated in St John’s Injury Unit for a range of minor injuries including sports injuries, broken bones, dislocations, sprains and minor burns.

To the end of October this year, a total of 9,751 patients attended St John’s Injury Unit, a marginal decrease (0.3pc) on the corresponding period in 2018. Across the Hospitals Group, the number of patients treated in Injury Units has continued to increase.

A total of 28,216 patients have been treated in the Group’s three Injury Units to the end of October 2019, up by 2.18% on the figure for the corresponding period last year.

The Injury Unit at St John’s is staffed by a team of doctors, Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANPs) and nurses who are highly experienced in the treatment of minor non-life and non-limb threatening injuries.

With seriously ill patients prioritised for treatment in the Emergency Department in University Hospital Limerick, the Injury Units are a vital resource for maximising efficient patient flow and minimising wait times for patients.

As Suzanne Lynch, an ANP based in St John’s Injury Unit, explains: “If you want to save time and you want to get our injury treated a little bit quicker, please come to an injury unit instead of visiting the busy Emergency Department.”

Dr Gareth Quin, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, University Hospital Limerick and St John's Hospital Injury Unit, also encouraged any patient with minor injuries to attend St John’s injury unit for treatment.

“We have a team of highly experienced doctors, ANPs and nurses, and typically, patients will be treated and discharged much more quickly than they would be if they attended the ED at University Hospital Limerick,” Dr Quin added.

Injury Units can treat patients with broken bones, dislocations, sprains, strains, wounds, scalds and minor burns that are unlikely to need overnight admission to hospital. Staff members take x-rays, reduce joint dislocations, apply plaster casts and treat wounds by stitches or other means. Injury units provide swift access to tests and x-rays and some have rapid access to physiotherapy services. They are staffed by Consultant-led teams of doctors, Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANPs), nurses, radiographers and physiotherapists. Patients can go directly to the Unit or be referred by a GP.

Nationally, the average turn-around time for seeing and treating patients in injury units is 1-2 hours. The Injury Units in the Mid-West and across the State provide patients with the same level of expertise and service as Emergency Departments. The only exceptions are for patients with serious head, back and neck injuries, abdominal (stomach) pain, medical illnesses or mental health problems and children under the age of five. For appropriate patients who wish to avoid long waiting times, Injury Units are the best option.

Approximately one in three of all emergency presentations within UL Hospitals Group take place within the three Injury Units. Attendances continue to increase in Nenagh, Ennis and St John’s and the Injury Units have the capacity to do more still.

All three have had consistently good feedback and reaction from the patients they treat. There is no charge for patients with full medical cards or those patients with a valid medical/GP referral letter.

The Injury Unit at St. John’s Hospital is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm, and can be contacted on 061-462303. For information online, visit www.hse.ie/injuryunits or view this brief video - https://youtu.be/hV9jN4r9JJo