A CYSTIC fibrosis (CF) sufferer told yesterday how a new specialist health centre will greatly improve her quality of life.
Katie Drennan (20), from Ennis, Co Clare -- a second year business studies student at the University of Limerick -- was diagnosed with CF before she was three years old.
Her 19-year-old brother Jordan also has the life-threatening inherited respiratory disease.
Ireland has the highest incidence of CF per capita in the world.
Yesterday it was announced that construction work is expected to begin on the purpose-built, €10.5m six-storey medical centre at the Mid-Western Regional hospital in Dooradoyle, Co Limerick, in June.
The facility will cater for patients with CF, stroke effects, dermatology and symptomatic breast cancer. It is hoped the centre will be fully operational by January 2013.
"The benefits of this unit are many. It means we will not have to travel to CF centres in Dublin to receive our treatment. We will not have to endure long hospital stays so far from home," Ms Drennan said.
She added that it was hoped the new unit wiould also mean that CF patients attending the Mid-West Regional Hospital would not have to go through emergency departments to be admitted, which can increase the risk of cross-infection.
The CF section will have five treatment rooms and an in-patient unit with nine en-suite rooms. The neurological unit will serve 5,000 and complex technical treatments will be catered for in a six-bed unit.
The dermatology outpatient centre will bring all dermatology supports together.
Meanwhile, the Mid-Western Hospitals Development Trust, which is supported by the JP McManus Invitational Pro-Am, is providing €4m toward the construction costs.
Cancer patient Helen Leo (55) from Nenagh, Co Tipperary, said: "The advantage of the new breast cancer unit is that it will mean that it can function as an integrated unit, reduce the need to trudge from one area to another for consultations and procedures and generally make life easier for all concerned."