Galway is the only county with a dedicated Community Nurse who provides a heart failure service as part of a HSE Community Heart Failure Management Programme. The aim of the programme is to integrate care between hospitals and General Practitioners and in this way help prevent patients having to visit hospital.
Ms Liz Killeen, Clinical Nurse Specialist in heart failure, who links with General Practitioners, Galway University Hospitals and Portiuncula Hospital Ballinasloe, provides nurse-led clinics in Health Centres and visits patients in their own homes or in nursing homes when required.
The care is individualised to each patient and includes an assessment of the patient’s heart failure status, review of medications, and liaison with the Primary Care Team to ensure that the patient has access to other health care professionals. Liz Killeen is now a Registered Nurse Prescriber which will enhance her role for the benefit of patients.
Liz Killeen says, “Heart failure is when the heart is not working adequately to meet the needs of the body. Heart function can be reduced due to a number of reasons such as heart disease or following a heart attack.
“People with heart failure are generally older (over 70 years of age ) and because of distance, frailty and poor mobility, going to hospital for tests and check-ups can cause an added burden to them and their carers. By providing a heart failure management programme in the community, there is a more timely treatment for this group of patients in County Galway.”
As part of the Community Heart Failure Management Programme, General Practitioners may directly refer patients for an echocardiogram. The echocardiograms are carried out by a community based cardiac technician employed by Croí, the West of Ireland Cardiac Foundation.
Clinics are held by appointment at seven locations across County Galway (Ballinasloe Health Centre; Tuam Health Centre; Merlin Park; Croí, Liosban Galway; Tully Ballinahown Health Centre; Clifden Health Centre and Ardrahan Health Centre ) which makes the service more accessible for patients.
An echocardiogram is an essential test to support an early and accurate diagnosis of heart failure. Galway was the first County to offer community based echocardiograms.