UCC’s School of Nursing transformed into HSE Oncology Day Service during COVID-19 crisis

(Left –right): Valerie O’Mahony, Oncology Clinical Nurse Manager II, Mercy University Hospital; Margaret McKiernan, Director of Nursing, MUH; Dr Derek Power, Oncology Consultant; Nuala Walshe, Clinical Skills Manager, School of Nursing and Midwifery, UCC; Marie O’Connor Oncology Staff Nurse, MUH; Professor Josephine Hegarty, Head of School of Nursing and Midwifery, UCC; Dr Ayman Amasayb, Oncology Registrar pictured at the School of Nursing and Midwifery, UCC

University College Cork has made a premises available to the HSE to facilitate treatment for vulnerable cancer patients during the COVID-19 crisis.

Ordinarily the School of Nursing and Midwifery, UCC uses its simulation centre to facilitate and support student learning. 

However over the last few weeks UCC and the HSE have worked together to enable the provision of onsite clinical services at the centre, which will now be used to deliver chemotherapy to patients with cancer. 

Over the weekend, staff from the Mercy University Hospital ably assisted by Army personnel moved equipment onto the Brookfield Health Sciences Complex site. The first patients received their chemotherapy onsite in UCC on Monday [April 6], supported by the nurses and doctors they would ordinarily encounter in the Mercy University Hospital.

Chemotherapy treatments can affect the body’s immune system and reduce the person’s ability to fight off infections, and this initiative will help patients with cancer to continue their treatment, while at the same time avoiding hospitals during this COVID-19 crisis.

The School of Nursing facilities are capable of supporting up to forty patients to receive their treatments at any one time. 

The simulated wards contain all the equipment ordinarily found in any hospital environment. 

Professor Josephine Hegarty, Head of School of Nursing and Midwifery, UCC, said: 

“UCC is delighted to support the HSE at this difficult time and the use of the facility to support patients with cancer to receive their chemotherapy is a fantastic use of the School of Nursing and Midwifery’s teaching and learning facilities”. 

“Nurses are the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 in Ireland and elsewhere, and they have been working long hours to care for these very sick patients, many of whom are on ventilators and require very complex 24-hour care. I personally want to thank nurses across the country for their contribution at this time”.

The centre is used to facilitate the training of undergraduate and postgraduate students including those undertaking general, paediatric, mental health, intellectual disability nursing and midwifery. 

Ordinarily the school supports the education of over 1,200 undergraduate and postgraduate students across 19 programmes, and every year hundreds of students use the simulation centre’s extensive resources to rehearse essential skills in a safe, supportive environment. 

These range from fundamental skills such as hand washing, to the advanced skills required to manage acutely unwell and deteriorating patients. The school has a wide selection of teaching equipment including technologically advanced patient simulators, which can display vital sign parameters; such as pulse and blood pressure and respond to learners’ actions. 

The simulation suite contains critical care rooms, set up as high-dependency areas to run acute or emergency scenarios. The focus in these learning situations is on developing skills to support patient safety, teamwork, problem solving and crisis management which are essential skills, particularly in the current climate where teams must work together to maintain patient safety.

The School of Nursing has a well-established standardised participant programme, which involves training members of the public to act as patients and portray clinical cases in the same way to every student. This approach is an excellent means of developing communication and interpersonal skills.

However, over the coming months, some of the patients who would ordinarily receive their chemotherapy in the Mercy University Hospital and Cork University Hospital will instead be coming to the School of Nursing and Midwifery, UCC. 

For a virtual tour of the facilities see:  https://youtu.be/KpTnHzV7vQI

WCP Staff

WCP Staff Writer

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