Linking hospital and community care for the benefit of patients

A SERVICE that has saved 342 hospital “bed days” since it started last September was officially launched by Environment Minister Phil Hogan on Friday.

A SERVICE that has saved 342 hospital “bed days” since it started last September was officially launched by Environment Minister Phil Hogan on Friday.

The launch of Caredoc’s Community Intervention Team nursing services was attended by nurses, GPs and hospital consultants at their centre on the Waterford Road, Kilkenny – a fitting representation of the service’s aim of linking hospital and community care for the benefit of patients.

“In this country we have always had very good doctors working in the community and nurses looking after patients, and we have always had very good doctors and nurses in our hospitals,” said Dr Rory McGovern, consultant physician/ geriatrician at St Luke’s Hospital, but there has always been “a ‘twilight zone’ between hospitals and community services that rarely speak, and they don’t integrate, and the patient falls down (between them).”

He said the difference with Caredoc and the Community Intervention Team is that they put the patient “absolutely first.” “If I am sick, I want to go to hospital, get the tests done, get treated and be home as soon as possible – and that is what we do,” he said. “I think there was a grey area between hospitals and the community, and I think this plugs that gap.”

The first of its kind in the country, the community intervention service aims to help discharge patients from hospital early where possible, and even to avoid the need for hospital admission in some cases.

This, the speakers agreed, was a win-win situation serving to improve patients’ lives and also to save money for the health service.

Caredoc/ CIT operational manager Dorcas Collier pointed out that, since the service started in September, it has visited 828 patients in Kilkenny and Carlow, and 73% of patients referred to the service have been over 65 years of age.

“As a result, this has made available within the hospital 342 ‘bed days’ for another patient to occupy,” she said.

The intention is to roll out the service across the South East this year, and Minister Hogan welcomed its focus on patients’ interests.

“The patient has to be the centre of policy,” he said, “and this initiative at community level is going to enhance that service.”