MInster for the Environment Phil Hogan cut the ribbon on a newly-refurbished ward for sick children in St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny on Monday afternoon.
The revamp cost €421,000 to complete, with €75,000 of this coming from the Friends of St Luke’s General Hospital. The 19-bed ward has a decidedly nautical theme to it, with the new nurses’ station in the unique shape of a galley ship called ‘Rainbow Magic’.
The renovated facility includes a 24-hour paediatric assessment unit, providing specialist paediatric care for children from infancy to adolescence. It features two new treatment centres, including one specifically for oncology.
Until now, St Luke’s has just had one general room for children, which has made life difficult for both sick children and parents, as well as the staff. It is hoped that the new unit will facilitate shared care for paediatric haematology and oncology patients with Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin, allowing young children from the Carlow/Kilkenny area to have their ongoing treatments and monitoring closer to home.
“The refurbished paediatric ward here is good for the morale of the staff and it’s excellent for the service that it provides for children,” said Minister Hogan.
“St Luke’s General Hospital has enjoyed a good reputation in medical circles for many years. In otherwise difficult economic times, its great to see things happening here, progress being made in developing acute hospital services of the highest standard for people of all ages.”
A new integrated mobile library for patients was also launched on the day, as part of a new coordinated effort between the hospital and the library service. Patients will now be able to select a book, and take it home with them after their treatment.
“The HSE is committed to maintaining and developing St Luke’s General Hospital,” said Anna Marie Lanigan, the HSE’s Area Manager for the Carlow/Kilkenny area.
I’m very proud of the range of professionals here, who have worked with the Friends of St. Luke’s Hospital group, Kilkenny County Library Service, the “Play Volunteers” and the “Children in Hospital Ireland” group and many others besides to make a hospital stay a more comfortable experience for the children we serve.”
The Friends of St Luke’s General Hospital, who put €75,000 towards the new ward, are also currently working to support the purchase of new monitors for the Intensive Care Unit in the hospital. Charitable donations and community supports from the Friends have never been more needed, as the hospital attempts to bridge the shortfall in Government spending.
Minister Hogan commended the united effort.
“I think it is a very collaborative approach with all stakeholders, parents, children and the community,” he said.
“We get better buy-in in terms of the facility, to have everyone involved. The Friends of St Luke’s has been involved for 21 years and has provided a lot of resources for new equipment and new facilities. Were it not for their support and funds, we would not be able to leverage other funds to ensure facilities like this open on schedule.”
Recently-released HSE figures reveal that St Luke’s tops the list in terms of how fast patients are admitted or discharged following registration. However, the figures also show that the hospital has registered the largest percentage increase (36%) in Emergency Department admissions of any hospital in the country.
When asked whether or not there would be sufficient funding to cope with the increased demand for services, the minister said that the hospital’s record of efficiency should stand to it.
“One of the things I would ask the Department of Health to look at is that St Luke’s Hospital is probably the most efficient hospital in the country, but doesn’t always get recognition for it,” he said.
“That should be taken into account in terms of any resource allocations that are made this year and in the future.”