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Positive Patient Feedback on St John’s Injury Unit

· Safe & Efficient Treatment Pathway for Minor Injuries

· Minor Injuries Continue to Be Diverted Away from UHL ED

· St John’s Injury Unit Now Open Seven Days A Week

THE UL Hospitals Group’s three Injury Units at St John’s, Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals are proving their worth as reliable and safe care providers for patients with minor injuries sustained at home during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Greg Ashe, from just outside the city in Murroe, Co Limerick, was grateful to be able to attend St John’s Injury Unit for treatment when he injured himself at home, and it’s a decision he feels may have accelerated his recovery.

Greg’s treatment at St John’s for a deep, wide tear on the shin is a good example of how patients benefit from efficient, expert treatment from a range of medical expertise, including doctors, nurses and Advanced Nurse Practitioners, while ensuring that the region’s Emergency Department at University Hospital Limerick is prioritised for the most seriously ill patients.

During the pandemic, all patients with minor injuries—such as suspected broken bones, cuts, bruises, sprains and strains—are being redirected to the Injury Units in St John’s, Ennis and Nenagh for treatment.

And when Greg injured his leg when he walked into the end of a folded down lawnmower handle in his shed on April 7th, he knew the deep, wide V-shaped laceration would require stitches at least. As it was after six o’clock, Greg saved valuable minutes by phoning a friend who worked in UHL, who advised him to attend St John’s Injury Unit.

“I was fortunate that I listened to my friend, because I arrived at 6.40pm, and was promptly seen by the registrar on duty, who cleaned the injury, a pre-tibial laceration, and closed the V-shaped tear with 12 stitches,” he recalled.

However, it was in the aftermath of this initial treatment that Greg says the personnel of the Injury Unit really came into their own. “The severity of the wound was such that it was always going to be a long, slow healing process. Before the stitches were removed 10 days later, the wound was reviewed by the registrar and the dressing changed twice. When he removed the stiches, there was evidence of infection, and this was treated with antibiotics.”

The treatment took another step forward when Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Suzanne Lynch, observing that most of the torn skin on Greg’s wound was no longer viable, proposed the use of a hi-tech Pico dressing and ongoing regular review of the injury.

“This was a crucial ‘sliding doors’ moment. Suzanne has taken a great professional interest in this case. She has shown that ANPs are so much more than the ‘nurses in navy blue’ I previously regarded them as. I’ve been so fortunate for the treatment and ongoing reviews of my injury, and it’s clear to me that the Pico dressing has accelerated the healing process by a matter of weeks,” Greg said.

“Suzanne and her colleagues have been friendly and attentive on each of my many visits to the unit. And one visit even involved hair removal, moisturising and exfoliation of the injured area, so it’s been as good as any spa treatment!” Greg laughed.

“Obviously, I was concerned about this having happened during the pandemic, but the Injury Unit at St John’s has provided me with great peace of mind, and a level of care that’s second to none. Thank you to all at St John’s Injury Unit!” Greg stated.

Suzanne Lynch, ANP at St John’s Injury Unit, explains: “St John’s Injury Unit is now open from 8am-7pm, Monday to Sunday. We see non- life and non-limb threatening injuries. Emergency Advanced Nurse Practitioners in all three of our injury units see, treat, diagnose and discharge patients on a daily basis. We see patients from the age of 5 years up, treating a range of minor injuries: from broken bones, sprains, sports injuries, wounds and burns.”

She added: “My interactions with Greg over these past number of weeks have been paramount to a good outcome, the healing wound and the avoidance of a skin graft surgery being my main focus. While an Injury Unit is a quicker and more efficient pathway to have your injury treated, we kindly ask the public to be mindful that waiting times could exist while numbers attending rise.”

Emer Martin, Chief Executive Officer at St John’s Hospital, was delighted to hear about Greg’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 Greg’s recovery is ongoing, and I thank him for his very generous feedback. Greg is just one of many people who attend our Injury Unit and who, even at this challenging time for our health services, are frequently astonished by how efficiently and effectively they can be treated,” Ms Martin added.

The Injury Units at St John’s, Ennis and Nenagh Hospitals have traditionally played a strong role in alleviating pressure on the Emergency Department at University Hospital Limerick, and especially so now, with the ED ring-fenced for the assessment and treatment of confirmed and suspected Covid-19 patients. Non-Covid patients are streamed upon presentation to the relevant assessment unit in UHL.

During 2019, there was an approximate 2% increase in patients attending the three Injury Units, and there is capacity for more. All the 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 St Johns is open seven days a week, 8am-7pm, and can be contacted on 061-462303. The unit at Nenagh (seven days, 8am-8pm) can be contacted on 067-42311, while the Ennis unit (seven days, 8am-8pm) can be contacted on 065-6863121. Visit www.hse.ie/injuryunits for further information.