A new Acute Medical Unit (AMU) opened this week in Cork University Hospital.
The new €1.4m 23-bed unit, which is being implemented as part of the HSE’s National Acute Medicine Programme, is located above the hospital’s Emergency Department.
Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the unit will provide for the acute treatment and / or observation and investigation of patients where the estimated length of stay is less than 48 hours. Acutely ill medical patients referred to the unit will be seen by a consultant within one hour of arrival and have ready access to diagnostics such as x-rays, blood tests, scans etc.
With 30 – 40 per cent of patients presenting at the ED affected by acute medical problems such as chest infections/pneumonia, clots, chest pain, stroke, heart failure, the new unit will ensure that patients are seen quickly and treated appropriately outside of the Emergency Department; benefiting the patient and alleviating pressure on the ED which has been heightened in recent weeks.
The AMU will initially receive patients from the Emergency Department and, from February 7th, receive patient referrals directly from their GPs. From that point forward, GPs will make contact with the unit’s case manager (a nurse whose role it is to liaise directly with GPs and plan the patients care) where patients will either be referred for prompt admission to the Unit or for assessment as an outpatient to the AMU’s dedicated outpatient clinic.
The AMU will be staffed by a team of staff including acute medicine doctors, nursing staff, physiotherapy, administration, catering, occupational therapy, housekeeping, speech and language therapy, portering, dietetics and social work.
Dr. Jennifer Carroll, Consultant Physician with responsibility for setting up acute medicine units in Cork and Kerry, working closely with Dr Mike Henry, Consultant Respiratory Physician, the Clinical Director and the nursing team in CUH, has liaised directly with GPs around the process to admit acutely ill patients.
“The opening of the acute medicine unit has multiple benefits for patients,” Dr Carroll said.
“Fast-tracking assessment of patients with acute medical problems will facilitate early diagnosis and initiation of appropriate treatment. The Acute Medical Unit allows patients to be discharged earlier, reduces the volume of medical admissions and shortens the length of time patients spend in hospital. The knock on effect to the ED, is that it decreases attendances and consequently the waiting times.”