‘Strict hand hygiene’ and ‘good isolation facilities’ credited with low incidence of MRSA at Galway

The Galway Clinic has credited strict hand hygiene and good isolation facilities with maintaining a “very low” incidence of MRSA infection at the Doughiska based private hospital.

The rate of the hospital superbug recorded at the €100 million state-of-the-art facility is less than one per 1,000 hospital admissions.

“This level is on a par and in many instances exceeds the best results reported from the leading European centres,” according to the Clinic’s first annual report for 2008, just published.

It outlines that all patients are screened for MRSA prior to and on admission and this facilitates the identification of carriers.

“Only one case of health care associated MRSA blood stream infection has been recorded since the clinic opened in 2004.”

More than half of its day and in-patients come from Galway with about 16 per cent coming from Mayo, more than 12 per cent from Clare and 5.8 per cent from Roscommon. Other areas represented to a lesser degree include Sligo, Tipperary, Offaly, Donegal, Limerick and Dublin.

The report reveals the highest number of day and in-patients (30.2 per cent ) attending the hospital were gastroenterology patients followed by orthopaedic and urology. The average length of stay for in-patients was 3.6 days.

Accident and emergency admissions rose from 540 in 2006 to 1,203 last year while surgical cases escalated from 7,904 in 2006 to 9,975 in 2008.

The 126 bed hospital, which was established by Dublin based hospital consultant Mr James Sheehan - who is also the founder of Dublin’s Blackrock Clinic - offers robotic and bariatric surgery. The Da Vinci robotic system places a computer interface between the surgeon and the patient allowing technology to refine and assist the surgeon’s actions, according to the report.

It outlines that the Galway Clinic carried out the first robotic lung surgery in Ireland and the first minimally invasive surgical treatment for atrial fibrillation in this country, too. The number of bariatric surgery procedures - to treat obesity by modifying the gastrointestinal tract to reduce nutrient intake - doubled in 2008.

Two new community volunteer programmes, which will add to the volunteer services already in place, are being implemented at the hospital. The first is a home visitation programme for discharged patients which was organised in conjunction with the Bishop of Galway, Martin Drennan.

“Volunteers from the Galway diocese visit the homes of discharged patients to assist with minor household tasks until the patient has regained health and returned to independent living. The decision to avail of this programme will rest with the patient who will be linked up with the volunteer service prior to discharge.

“The second programme involves volunteers selected from the community who will be available to sit with restless or confused patients while hospitalised at the Galway Clinic.”

Mr James Sheehan, the chief executive/director of the private hospital says 2009 will be a year of both “consolidation and expansion” at the facility.

“Our second radiotherapy bunker was completed in February and the preliminary work on the two new accommodation floors has been completed. The main construction work will start shortly and will be completed in autumn,” he outlines in the report. “This will add 45 rooms, a new day oncology unit and eight extra beds in the daycare unit.”

He is optimistic about the future of the five-year-old hospital. “We feel that because of our cost consciousness in the past we are very well positioned to weather the storms that are looming in the financial state of the country.”

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