A newly built medical assessment unit (MAU) has opened in Mallow General Hospital in Cork. It replaces a temporary unit that had been operating since the closure of the hospital’s emergency department (ED) earlier this year.
Last March, the hospital’s ED was replaced by an urgent care centre made up of a MAU and a local injury unit (LIU), with patients attending the unit that best suited their needs.
The LIU is open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm, treating adults and children over the age of five with minor injuries, including sprains, minor burns and suspected broken bones.
The eight-bed MAU, which had until now been in a temporary location, is also open seven days a week, from 8am to 8pm. It treats patients referred directly by their GP or Southdoc, who are experiencing symptoms such as chest pains, breathlessness and blackouts.
According to the HSE South, the MAU ‘only accepts patients referred by their GP or Southdoc to ensure that only patients suitable for treatment present at this unit’.
Patients will be seen within 60 minutes of their arrival by a senior doctor. Staff include consultants, nurses, healthcare assistants and dieticians.
“The opening of the new unit has multiple benefits for patients. MAUs facilitate early diagnosis and initiation of appropriate treatment. This results in patients being discharged earlier, a reduction in the volume of medical admissions and a shortening in the length of time patients spend in hospital,” explained the unit’s clinical lead, Dr Ceara Harte.
Meanwhile, according to the hospital’s director of nursing, Mary Owens, the MAU ‘will make a positive contribution to the management of beds in the hospital and will most importantly lead to better care for medically ill patients’.
“Since opening, attendance to both units is increasing steadily. In the five months since opening, 1,770 patients have been seen in the LIU and 1,506 in the MAU and feedback received from patients is highly satisfactory,” she said.