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New Care Pathway Provides Vital Supports For Cardiac Patients

Patients availing of the new hospital avoidance pathways for cardiac care in the West of Ireland have praised the enhances in care, as they mark World Heart Day, today September 27th.

The Enhanced Community Care pathway for Cardiology has been up and running since March 2023 in the West of Ireland under the joint governance of the Saolta University Health Care Group and Community Healthcare West.

Work carried out by the Galway City Hub has resulted in 300 patients being removed from the Galway University Hospitals wait list through a range of initiatives including list validation, a chest pain initiative, setting up of appointments at the hub instead of the hospital and the redirection of GUH hospital heart failure wait list to the hub.

“The ECC programme has been absolutely transformational for the care of patients with chronic cardiovascular disease. We have seen 298 new patients in the hub and had 1,300 clinical contacts since we started,” said Dr Susan Connolly, Cardiologist with UHG who also leads the cardiology service in the Galway City Integrated Care Hub.

Through the work of the enhanced community care programme patients are being treated for their chronic heart disease closer to home. This is proving life changing for those now availing of the community based service.

Noel Ridge, a patient at the Galway Integrated Care Hub, where services are provided in an integrated fashion between GPs, practice nurses, community specialist teams and hospital specialist teams, shares how his experience has positively impacted his life: "I've had three heart attacks and been in the hospital nine times in the last 18 months. But I've come through it.

“The support I receive at the hub provides great comfort because I'm not waiting for hospital appointments that are months or a year apart. If I don't feel well, I can call the hub right away and explain what's happening. Overall, visiting the hub is much more convenient as it is closer to home and appointments are scheduled at specific times, which reduces a lot of stress."

Dr Connolly added: “One of the main benefits we hear from patients is that they now feel they have a safety net. With the Chronic Disease Management service we meet these patients in hospital and establish the link with the community service.”

Two in five patients in Ireland present with more than one chronic conditions, which traditionally saw each patient attending a wide range of different hospital services. This care is now streamlined in the hub for patients with multiple conditions.

“We hold regular multi-disciplinary meetings with colleagues across diabetes and nephrology, [who treat chronic kidney problems]. By all working together we make this journey much more manageable for our patients by ensuring they are only receiving appointments that are necessary.

“It’s not just about providing heart failure care, it’s about providing a holistic service that addresses all their needs in terms of being a cardiovascular patient and helping them live with the chronic disease but empowering them so that they can live with that disease,” added Dr Connolly.

Dr John Lally, GP in Galway city described the Enhanced Community Care programme as a ‘game-changer’ for care.

“We are now able to send our patients to community based services for both their diagnostics and their clinical opinion,” he added.
For more on the Cardiology care services in action please see:

Photo Caption:
Dr Susan Connolly with her team and patient Noel Ridge at the Galway City Hub.

The article above is specific to the following Saolta hospitals:: 
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