The lack of resources regarding cardiac care at University Hospital Waterford have been well documented in the media in recent weeks.
They offer a nine to five service, Monday to Friday, Cath Lab services. If you happen to have cardiac trouble outside of these hours you go to University Hospital Cork, which can be over an hour and a half away by ambulance.
In Kilkenny we are in no better a position. There is no cath lab at St Luke's Hospital and during the week patients are brought to the cath lab in Waterford.
A cath lab is an examination room with diagnostic imaging equipment used to visualise the arteries of the heart and the chambers of the heart and treat any stenosis (narrowing) or abnormality found.
When the problem arises is in the evening and at weekends when patients in Kilkenny have to travel to St James Hospital in Dublin. This is unacceptable. People are at serious risk of death because there is no adequate cardiac care in the SouthEast. The recommended time to get to a cath lab is 90 minutes and this cannot be guaranteed in the present conditions.
According to medical opinion cath labs save lives. It is accepted as a necessary facility in emergency coronary care. If you are forced to travel to Cork or Dublin from the South East there may not be adeqaute time to get the necessary treatment.
However if there was an operational cath lab nearby medics could offer intervention which could manage and stablise patients and therefore save lives. Without this intervention some people will die. Simple as.
This is nothing short of outrageous. If one gets chest pain from 9am to 4.30pm - Monday to Friday and one is living in the South East they will most likely make it to the Cath Lab in Waterford. Sadly if one is in a similar situation after 5pm or at the weekend they could be in serious trouble.
This was highlighted last month when Thomas Power died on his way to Cork University Hospital from Waterford. The same could easily happen travelling from Kilkenny to Dublin.
A HSE spokesperson has confirmed that there is no cath lab at St Luke's Hospital. According to the HSE statement a patient suffering from a major cardiac heart attack needs to be transferred to a primary percutaneous coronary intervention centre (PPCI) within 90 minutes. If this is not possible the patient needs to be brought to the nearest emergency department to allow thrombolysis.
The area of major concern for people living in the Southeast is that (outside of the opening times of the cath lab at Waterford Regional Hospital) it will not always be possible to make it to a centre of excellence within the recommended timeframe.
The distance from St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny to St James Hospital in Dublin is 123 kilometres. In perfect conditions one may make it in 90 minutes door to door. However before all that happens the ambulance has to get to you and this takes time, traffic on the approach to the capital can be chaotic and heavy at times and this can cause further delays.
Either way it is not good enough - if someone has a heart attack and needs the necessary intervention - then their life should not be dependent on traffic times or the speed at which an ambulance can travel.
We need a 24 hour cath lab in the South East and we need it without any further delay.
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