Services for patients with chronic respiratory conditions continue to expand at Ennis Hospital with a new monthly clinic for patients with Interstitial Lung Disease/Pulmonary Fibrosis.
This new nurse-led service facilitates patients with this serious and debilitating condition and avoids the inconvenience of a long journey to UHL or another major centre.
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis is a rare and progressive condition which involves the development of scar tissue (fibrosis) in the lungs. In many cases, the origin of the condition – which causes extreme breathlessness, fatigue, cough, and ultimately respiratory failure – is unknown. Diagnosis can be difficult given the similarity of symptoms to other respiratory conditions but early diagnosis and referral to a specialist centre is crucial so that patients can be started on anti-fibrotic treatment. There are over 1,000 people living with IPF in Ireland today and approximately 360 people are newly diagnosed with the condition each year. Life expectancy upon diagnosis is typically three to five years.
Paula Ryan, Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Respiratory, UL Hospitals Group, explained the evolution in services in the Group that resulted in the establishment of satellite pulmonary fibrosis clinics in Ennis and Nenagh hospitals early in 2018.
“UHL is one of the six centres in Ireland for ILD. In the last year, we have established satellite clinics in Ennis and Nenagh so that patients who are initially diagnosed in Limerick can be seen locally for their bloods, for observations and for management of antifibrotic medication,” said Ms Ryan.
Approximately 20 patients currently attend the monthly clinic in Ennis Hospital and six in the corresponding clinic in Nenagh. The clinic is nurse-led and comes under the clinical governance of Dr Brian Casserly and Dr Aidan, O’Brien, respiratory consultants.
Carmel McInerney, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Respiratory, Ennis Hospital, said the clinic has been well-received by patients in Clare.
“Patients with ILD were coming in to us on an ad hoc basis and we agreed it would be a significant improvement if we were to separate them from the other respiratory patients and provide a specialised monthly clinic here in Ennis in addition to the services they can continue to access in Limerick as required,” explained Ms McInerney.
“These patients are diagnosed in Limerick and will commence their medication there. Monthly monitoring of their condition is required and this is managed in Ennis and in Nenagh. Remember we are talking about patients with serious lung disease; patients who may be on oxygen; patients who are less mobile. They may be travelling from remote parts of west or east Clare and that is a long journey for them. So they are delighted to have that service locally and also that they have the back-up of the expertise in Limerick.
“Currently, an exciting new initiative of a patient support group is being encouraged by the respiratory team and the local pulmonary fibrosis support group have arranged to meet on the first Wednesday of every month at 12:00 in the West County Hotel in Ennis.”