UCC’s School of Nursing transformed into HSE Oncology Day Service during COVID-19 crisis

University College Cork has made a premises available to the HSE to facilitate treatment for vulnerable cancer patients during the COVID-19 crisis.

Ordinarily the School of Nursing and Midwifery, UCC uses its simulation centre to facilitate and support student learning.

However over the last few weeks UCC and the HSE have worked together to enable the provision of onsite clinical services at the centre, which will now be used to deliver chemotherapy to patients with cancer.

Over the weekend, staff from the Mercy University Hospital ably assisted by Army personnel moved equipment onto the Brookfield Health Sciences Complex site.

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.

Chemotherapy treatments can affect the body’s immune system and reduce the person’s ability to fight off infections, and this initiative will help patients with cancer to continue their treatment, while at the same time avoiding hospitals during this Covid-19 crisis.

The School of Nursing facilities are capable of supporting up to 40 patients to receive their treatments at any one time.

The simulated wards contain all the equipment ordinarily found in any hospital environment.

Professor Josephine Hegarty, Head of School of Nursing and Midwifery, UCC, said: “UCC is delighted to support the HSE at this difficult time and the use of the facility to support patients with cancer to receive their chemotherapy is a fantastic use of the School of Nursing and Midwifery’s teaching and learning facilities”.

“Nurses are the frontline in the fight against Covid-19 in Ireland and elsewhere, and they have been working long hours to care for these very sick patients, many of whom are on ventilators and require very complex 24-hour care.

"I personally want to thank nurses across the country for their contribution at this time”.

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.

Ordinarily the school supports the education of over 1,200 undergraduate and postgraduate students across 19 programmes, and every year hundreds of students use the simulation centre’s extensive resources to rehearse essential skills in a safe, supportive environment.

These range from fundamental skills such as hand washing, to the advanced skills required to manage acutely unwell and deteriorating patients.

The school has a wide selection of teaching equipment including technologically advanced patient simulators, which can display vital sign parameters; such as pulse and blood pressure and respond to learners’ actions.

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.

The School of Nursing has a well-established standardised participant programme, which involves training members of the public to act as patients and portray clinical cases in the same way to every student.

This approach is an excellent means of developing communication and interpersonal skills.

However, over the coming months, some of the patients who would ordinarily receive their chemotherapy in the Mercy University Hospital and Cork University Hospital will instead be coming to the School of Nursing and Midwifery, UCC.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024