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It will initially be used for patients transitioning from acute to longer-term care or rehabilitative care in other centres and will be supported by GPs and GP out-of-hours service Southdoc.
Mercy University Hospital (MUH) and HSE Estates are converting a ward block at St Mary’s Health Campus, Gurranabraher, Cork, to house the new centre.
The new development involves a co-operative arrangement with a GP practice, and a contract with Southdoc for emergency and weekend cover at the centre has been established.
Late last year, MUH wrote to GPs in Cork to inform them of the plans for the centre, which will be known as the Mercy Transitional Care Centre.
The letter, written by MUH Deputy Chief Executive Officer Mr Jim Corbett and MUH Clinical Director Prof David Kerins, states that payment to individuals and GP practices working at the centre will be “commensurate with consultant sessional and on-call attendance fees”.
“This is to be an acute unit with a consultant lead and it is the intention of Mercy University Hospital that it should become a ground-breaking service, enabling the early discharge of a range of medical and surgical patients into a properly-resourced unit to promote early return home or onward admission to other units… it may also expand in time to undertake certain GP admissions,” the letter, seen by the Medical Independent, states.
“Patients in the TCC will be medically discharged from MUH but their admission to the centre will be approved by its own consultant physician.”
According to the HSE, the total number of delayed discharges nationally in the first week of April was 597.
Delayed discharges can cost the HSE as much as €500,000 per night in total. Last year an extra €74 million was allocated by the State to alleviate delayed discharges and overcrowding in emergency departments.
The HSE Cork and Kerry Community Healthcare Organisation 2016 Operational Plan states that €51 million has been allocated in 2016 for the HSE Delayed Discharge Initiative.