28 February 2017
By David O’Sullivan
This week the Mercy Hospital Foundation celebrates its 10th birthday. There was a special event in The Mercy University Hospital yesterday, recognising and acknowledging the many people who have helped the charity support advancements in research, diagnosis, treatments and care of patients since its establishment in February 2007.
From its very first donation of €100 from the Gardai in Togher, to the €1.1 million invested in The Mercy’s Radiology Department in 2014, Mercy patients have always been at the heart of the Foundation’s commitment to developing services and care.
Speaking about the impact that the Mercy Hospital Foundation has had, Micheál Sheridan, CEO of the Mercy Hospital Foundation, said
“By developing close working relationships with the health care professionals and front line staff within The Mercy, as well as our amazing and very committed donors and supporters, the Foundation has helped to provide life-saving, life changing support. I am so proud of what we have achieved together over the past ten years and to see the impact that the funds raised by our generous supporters have had all around the hospital. We are very lucky have a team of hard working professional fundraisers working closely with our donors and supporters to raise these vital funds every day. Our job is also to make sure that the funds our donors and supporters entrust to us are having the biggest impact possible, in the right areas, for the maximum benefit to patients and families.”
The Foundation has contributed €1.1 million to the Radiology Department at The Mercy, and 2014 saw two new state-of-the art CT Scanners installed in a new CT imaging suite. With almost 10,000 CT scans performed on an annual basis within the hospital, the introduction of these scanners further improved the imaging quality and services offered to patients. The suite was jointly funded by HSE/ The Mercy University Hospital, and The Foundation, and thanks to generosity of its donors, the Foundation raised just shy of €1 million to fund this equipment. The new, bigger, brighter CT rooms were designed with the patient experience in mind and included the addition of special ceiling light boxes funded by The Foundation.
Funding to Gastroenterology and Gastrointestinal services at The Mercy has topped €700,000, with €340,000 recently committed to the Endoscopic Ultrasound (EUS) service to purchase new, state of the art specialist scopes. EUS is used to diagnose cancers of the oesophagus, stomach, and pancreas through very detailed imaging using these specialised scopes. The EUS at The Mercy Hospital is the only EUS service outside Dublin and offers its services to patients from across Munster. Since their recent introduction, the medical team lead by Dr. Martin Buckley have been delighted with the significant increase in imaging quality the scopes are delivering and also with the increased number of patients they can now see as a result of the Foundation’s support.
Donors funds have also purchased a HALO system used to treat Barrett’s Oesophagus, a cell abnormality that can lead to cancer, and also to treat early stage oesophageal cancer without the need for surgery. This ground-breaking technology uses thermal energy, or heat to destroy abnormal cells; patients can be treated in a fraction of the time; and they recover quickly after this non-invasive procedure. In recent years The Mercy was identified as the Regional Centre for Gastroenterology for Cork and Kerry and is expected to expand its services to the region in the coming years.
Approximately 2,500 men develop prostate cancer each year in Ireland, and the Mercy Hospital Foundation has allocated over €0.5 million to Men’s Health & Urology over the last ten years. Since 2008 and the Foundation’s first ever fundraising event, “It’s A Man’s Thing”, which raised over €100,000, donors have continued to fundraise towards the Rapid Access Clinic for patients with cancers of the prostate, kidney, bladder, testes and penis. In many cases this Clinic has helped to fast track the diagnosis and treatment of these cancers resulting in an enhanced service to patients.
A huge part of the Foundation’s work has been focused on normalising the issue of men’s health. With the younger generation this has been achieved through a Testicular Cancer Schools Outreach Programme to boys aged 15-17; participation in the well-known national Blue September campaign; and it was again highlighted further when Cork GAA’s sponsors O2 stepped aside in early 2013 and the Mercy Hospital Foundation partnered with the Cork County Board which saw the players wear special new jerseys for a number of National Hurling and Football Leagues bearing the slogan “Mercy Testicular Cancer Appeal”.
Since its inception, €0.5 million has been allocated to projects linked to The Mercy Kids + Teens Appeal. These funds have enabled the Foundation to support the provision of a mobile nursing service called POONS. With the support of donors to the Foundation, POONS nurses are able to administer treatment to children battling cancer and Leukaemia in the child’s own home. This service has been supported by the Foundation since 2011 and provides an invaluable service to many families who are coping with caring for a child with cancer across Cork, and into Waterford and Kerry.
The 2014 Irish Open saw more than 100,000 spectators visiting Fota Island Resort, and it also left a lasting legacy in the region, raising €50,000 for the Foundation’s Kids + Teens Appeal which was named as the tournament’s Official Charity. A variety of fundraising initiatives across the week raised funds to assist crucial areas of The Mercy Hospital’s paediatric services.
St. Therese’s Oncology Unit at The Mercy is visited by patients and families during what can be the most difficult time in their lives. Over the last decade, the Foundation has funded various projects and services there in an effort to make the cancer journey a little easier. €350,000 has gone towards this unit to date. In the early days the Foundation supported the provision of an Oncology Liaison Nurse; while in the last 18 months €100,000 has been spent on improvements to the ward including new triple pumps used to administer chemotherapy; re-painting the ward; recliners, electric profiling beds, a Patient Assistance Programme for Oncology patients; and a new iPad Borrow Scheme which was supported by the Make Your Mark on Cancer Walk.
The Mercy Stroke Unit is one of the leading facilities of its kind in Ireland, and the Foundation has been committed to funding essential equipment for both the treatment of stroke and to support the Rehabilitation of stroke victims by funding resources for Speech & Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Physiotherapy staff.
It is estimated that Dementia affects 30% of older people admitted to The Mercy, and the Foundation is committed to making changes and improvements to reduce the challenges that patients with dementia face when in hospital. The biggest change to the Care of the Elderly Ward, thanks to funds raised, was the recent upgrade of the Day Room in St. Mary’s Ward that saw it transformed into a cosy sitting room for patients, making them feel a little more at home.
In recent years the Foundation introduced Patient Assistance Funds, and 2017 will see €35,000 allocated to this area. These funds, managed through the Social Work Department in The Mercy include General Patient Support (basic necessities); Adult Oncology Fund (short term, low level financial support); Kids (counselling services, unexpected costs like trips to Dublin for treatment etc.); and Teens and Young Adult (return to education support, counselling etc).
Since its inception the Mercy Hospital Foundation has also assisted in design and printing of innovative patient supports such as “My Personal Health Passport”, used in the care of children with special needs to record specific information about each child and to inform healthcare professionals about each child’s pathway as well as their likes and dislikes; “Newly diagnosed Prostate Cancer Patient Pack” to help patients to better understand their cancer and the treatment options available to them; and a “Patient Guide to Chemotherapy”, developed by the Oncology team at The Mercy to help and assist patient beginning Chemotherapy to better understand Chemotherapy, as well as information on nutrition and looking after your general wellbeing.
Speaking at the 10th birthday celebration, Micheál Sheridan concluded
“Our mission is to inspire people to support advancements in research, diagnosis, treatments and care of patients at The Mercy University Hospital. This is only possible with the help of our supporters and donors like those who have joined us on the various steps of our journey over the last decade – it is impossible to name check them all, but we want to thank each and every one, from those that listen in and contribute to the annual 96fm Radiothon, to the commitment of those that step it out year after year for Make Your Mark on Cancer, or cycle the Fort 2 Fort, and every single person and community group in between!
We are so excited about the development of our new Cancer CARE Centre which work will commence on later this year, which when built will provide those diagnosed with cancer at the hospital and their families with a place to visit in the moments after their initial diagnosis and in the days, weeks and months ahead, whilst undergoing treatment here at the Hospital. In the coming weeks we will also announce details of the important projects we are committing to raise €3 million for over the next four years.”