19 June 2022
By Elaine Murphy
News from the week – Ribbon cutting at €30 million 60-bed extension for Heather House Community Nursing Unit
On Thursday 16th June 2022, the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin T.D., visited two new integrated care services at St Mary’s Health Campus, which are part of the national Enhanced Community Care (ECC) programme. During the visit the Taoiseach also visited St. Mary’s Primary Care Centre, cut the ribbon at a €30 million 60-bed extension at Heather House and met community groups.
The ECC programme is already making substantial progress nationally, reducing pressure on services and dependence on the hospital-centric model of care through enhanced and increased community services.
Developed as part of implementing Sláintecare, the ECC programme aims to ensure all HSE primary and community care services work in an integrated way to meet population health needs across Ireland, to reduce dependence on hospital services and provide access to consultant-led specialist services in the community. 21 Community Specialist Teams for Older Persons and 11 Chronic Disease Community Specialist Teams have been established, and 21 community intervention teams are now in place with national coverage. Community diagnostic services have provided over 140,000 scans to patients in 2021, and over 94,000 scans already in 2022.
This transformational programme will include 96 Community Healthcare Networks (CHNs), 30 Community Specialist Teams for Older Persons, 30 Community Specialist Teams for Chronic Disease and 3,500 additional staff when fully implemented. This marks a very significant step in supporting older people and people living with chronic disease by bringing specialist services closer to local communities and the people who need them and reducing pressure and dependence on hospital services.
An essential theme underlying this programme is developing a new, integrated model of care, which is responsive to the needs of local communities. This requires strong leadership and ownership at local level, bringing the relationship between General Practice, primary care and specialist community care into a much more patient focused and integrated model of care in each locality.
During his visit to St Mary’s, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin met staff and patients at two new ECC Integrated Care Hubs – a Chronic Diseases Management Centre and a Hub for Older People.
The Chronic Diseases Management Centre will open in Grove House later this month. This centre will be one of four such hubs across Cork and 30 across the country. It will give community access to specialist services, close to home, for people living with respiratory, cardiac and endocrine chronic disease and/or multi-morbidity.
The Taoiseach also met older people attending an Older Person’s hub, in operation since March 2022. This hub, part of a network of 30 similar hubs in development across the country, helps older people to stay safe and well in their own homes for as long as possible, by helping them to avoid hospital admissions entirely or to shorten hospital stays.
Speaking at the event, the Taoiseach said “The St. Mary’s campus has always held a special place in the hearts of Cork people and has played a key role in the city’s healthcare system for generations. It is heartening to see important new services arriving here and that it will be part of the huge transformation of our health service. It will continue to play a crucial role in keeping people safe, well and healthy at home for as long as possible. These new services, added to the new state-of-the-art Primary Care Centre opened here in 2019, will continue the proud tradition of providing quality health services for the people of Cork from the campus.”
Michael Fitzgerald, Chief Officer of Cork Kerry Community (HSE) said: “Our staff and the community here are rightly proud of the range of health services provided on the St Mary’s campus. The campus is now home to a range of vital and innovative health services which continue to make a real difference in the lives of people who need these services. I want to thank the staff who have worked to get these services up and running, and who are already making a difference to the lives of thousands of Cork people. The entire Enhanced Community Care programme depends on collaboration between many parts of the health service, and the co-operation across all parts of the health system is clearly paying dividends here.”