Cardiac care services have to be closer than Dublin and Cork
Around 40 people attended a public meeting about the provision of cardiac care in the South East at the Ferrycarrig Hotel.
The information meeting was organised by the Health Equality for the South East (HEFSE) group, who are campaigning for a 24/7 cardiac care unit for the south-east.
Dr Aidan Buckley, cardiologist in Wexford General Hospital, Ray Griffin, and Matt Shanahan, Chairman of HEFSE, spoke about the issue on the night, offering facts and figures, information about the facilities that are and are not available, and sharing anecdotes of such experiences. The discussion was facilitated by GAA commentator Liam Spratt.
John Roche, one of the organisers of the event, explained that the South-East was the only region in the country that did not have access to intervention for cardiac illnesses, on a full time basis.
'If you have a heart attack, there is a 90-minute critical window to get you to an operating theatre. As it stands, if you have a heart attack outside the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, you will have to go to St James' Hospital in Dublin and you won't get there in 90 minutes. You'll be coming back in a hearse.'
He explained that the Cath Lab that is currently in University Hospital Waterford had the capacity to carry out both intervention procedures and diagnostics. He added that it would cost €250,000 to upgrade it to the status of other such units around the country.
Speaking at the meeting, Dr Buckley said the upgrade of the facility was a 'no brainer', remarking that it was too late when a family found themselves following an ambulance to Dublin or Cork, hoping that their loved one would make it on time.
A number of county councillors were present at the meeting and Mr Roche said that the group intended to make a presentation to the Wexford Borough District Council to keep the pressure on locally.
'We need to be able to get to Waterford, not Dublin or Cork. It's really just common sense,' said Mr Roche.
Cllr Johnny Mythen, who was one of those in attendance on the night, remarked that 24/7 cardiac care in Waterford was, unfortunately, 'not a heart beat away'.
'This is a real threat to the quality of the health service and duty of care for a big catchment area.'