New cardiology services have been introduced at three Primary Care Centres in Galway in a joint initiative by Portiuncula Hospital and Galway Primary Care.
Ballinasloe, Mountbellew, and Potumna Primary Care Centres, along with Monksland in Roscommon, will receive new staff and equipment for improved capabilities to diagnose and assess cardiac patients.
It’s hoped that the increased availability of community care will cut down on the number of people need to attend hospital for tests and other assessments.
This is an expansion of the Heart Failure Initiative created by Portiuncula Hospital and Galway Primary Care, and €330,000 has been allocated for the project from the Sláintecare Integration Fund.
An Advanced Nurse Practitioner will also be recruited to support the needs of patients in the community and avoid hospital admission where appropriate.
“We want to be able to provide the same level of hospital clinic care in the community, with follow-up in the hospital as required for any patients whose condition changes,” said Dr Aidan Flynn, Consultant Cardiologist and project lead at Portiuncula.
Heart failure is the most common reason for older people attending hospital he said, and often requires lengthy hospital stays.
“By providing access to cardiac investigations in the community, we can reduce the number of patients who need to be referred to the hospital to see a consultant for diagnosis.”
“It also helps us to monitor patients, keep them well and out of hospital as well as streamline the pathways of care,” Dr Flynn said.
There are two types of cardiac investigations carried out by the Heart Failure Service in the Primary Care Centres.
The first is an echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound test to assess the structure and function of the heart muscles and valves.
The other is holter monitoring which is 24 hour continuous recording of the heart’s electrical rhythm to record any irregular heartbeat.
Both tests are essential in helping to diagnose heart failure and to monitor patients’ progress with treatment.
Siobhan Woods, Primary Care Development Officer for Galway and Roscommon said that working together with Portiuncula Hospital on improving these services has been extremely positive.
“The delivery of GP direct access cardiac diagnostics in Primary Care Centres brings care closer to home for service users which is in line with Sláintecare’s aim to deliver a health and social care service that meets the needs of the population.”