Speech by Minister White at the opening of the New Pharmacy in Letterkenny General Hospital
I am delighted to join you here today at Letterkenny General Hospital to officially open the new Pharmacy Department.
You are all too aware of the damage to the hospital that resulted from the flooding on 26 July last year when the new Emergency Department was destroyed, forcing the closure of several departments.
The re-instatement of the affected departments was commenced through a combination of using temporary accommodation, both on and off campus, and with the commencement of two major rebuilds, the Emergency Department/Acute Medical Assessment Unit and the Pharmacy Department.
The Emergency Department/Acute Medical Assessment Unit rebuild project involved ripping up flooring, the removal of all contaminated surfaces, the reinstatement of damaged services and the refitting of all surfaces in the Emergency Department. The ‘new’ ED re-opened to patients on Monday 10th March last and was officially opened by my colleague, Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly.
The Pharmacy Project, which is at the centre of today’s event, was designed and planned before the flood last July. However it was put on hold to allow the re-instatement of patient services at the hospital after the flood.
Now that it is realised, the Pharmacy Project has delivered a modern, purpose built department designed to support a busy modern hospital.
Letterkenny Hospital’s Pharmacy Department has a history of innovation and adaption. It was one of the first hospitals in Ireland, outside Dublin and Cork, to install Clean Room facilities and technology for the preparation of Cancer Drugs.
This development in 1993 (21 years ago) reduced the need for patients to travel outside the county.
The pharmacy also benefits from long term collaboration with Letterkenny Institute of Technology, the Medical University of Gdansk, Poland and the University of Eastern Finland based in the city of Kuopio, Finland. This collaboration has resulted in multiple student placements, increasing both knowledge and experience for participating students and staff in each of the partner institutions.
The Letterkenny Pharmacy Department was also the first hospital in Ireland to introduce Automated Ward Medication Systems: the use of these systems increases patient safety and reduces drug costs.
Clinical pharmacy has expanded significantly and Letterkenny General Hospital now has pharmacists specialising in a number of disciplines, including Oncology, Palliative Care, Mental Health, Geriatric Medicine, General Medicine, Renal, Anti-Microbial Therapy.
The massive task of rebuilding Letterkenny General Hospital continues and, considering the extent of the damage, it has been an incredible achievement to get the hospital re-opened so quickly.
The modern facilities created through the rebuilding will ensure that patients have improved access to safe, sustainable services for the long term.
That achievement is a direct reflection of the commitment and hard work of staff and management of Letterkenny General Hospital, the Rebuild Steering Group and the West/North West Hospital Group.
I want to congratulate and acknowledge the work of everybody involved at every level in this important work.
I also want to extend a special thanks to the staff of Sligo General Hospital and Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry for the invaluable assistance they provided during a very difficult time.
Now, all that remains for me is to thank you all for your commitment to your patients and your services and to declare this Unit open.