University College Cork (UCC) has opened a centre to deliver chemotherapy to patients with cancer during the Covid-19 crisis.
Part of its School of Nursing and Midwifery has been transformed to facilitate treatment for vulnerable cancer patients who would normally attend Mercy University Hospital and Cork University Hospital in the city.
The first patients received their chemotherapy onsite in UCC yesterday, supported by the nurses and doctors they would ordinarily encounter in the Mercy University Hospital. The new centre is expected to function for months.
It’s happening in a simulation centre in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, which is normally used to facilitate and support student learning but are now working wards.
Preparations between UCC and the HSE have been going on for weeks and, over the weekend, staff from the Mercy University Hospital, helped by army personnel, moved equipment onto the Brookfield Health Sciences Complex site.
The initiative will help patients with cancer to continue their treatment, while at the same time avoiding hospitals during this COVID-19 crisis. Chemotherapy treatments can affect the body’s immune system and reduce the person’s ability to fight off infections, making patients extremely vulnerable to the virus
The School of Nursing facilities are capable of supporting up to 40 patients to receive their treatments at any one time and contain all the equipment ordinarily found in any hospital environment.
UCC’s Head of School of Nursing and Midwifery Professor Josephine Hegarty said they were delighted to support the HSE at this difficult time and described it as a fantastic use the facility.
Normally, the centre is used to facilitate the training of undergraduate and postgraduate students including those undertaking general, paediatric, mental health, intellectual disability nursing and midwifery.
Every year, hundreds of students use the simulation centre’s extensive resources to rehearse essential skills ranging from hand washing, to the advanced skills required to manage acutely unwell and deteriorating patients.
The simulation suite contains critical care rooms, set up as high-dependency areas to run acute or emergency scenarios.
The focus in these learning situations is on developing skills to support patient safety, teamwork, problem solving and crisis management which are essential skills, particularly in the current climate where teams must work together to maintain patient safety.