Action group sounds cardiac service red alert
IF you live in County Wexford and have a severe heart attack after 5 p.m. in the evening, or over a weekend, you face a major risk of permanent irreversible heart damage or death because there is no proper treatment available within the 90-minute 'golden hour'.
The organisers of an appeal for a 24/7 cardiology intervention unit at Waterford University Hospital are urging Wexford people to draw the attention of local politicians ahead of the general election to the shortcoming of the existing service.
Consultant eye specialist Dr Patrick Condon and retired fire chief Willie Doyle, who are spearheading the campaign, says there is no proper weekend or after-hours cover in Waterford or Wexford for people suffering a heart attack.
'There is a time limit of between 60 and 90 minutes for the person to go to a cardiology unit (following a heart attack) before permanent damage to the heart muscle occurs,' they said in a joint statement.
'In severe heart attacks, a stent may be needed to prevent this happening.. whereas there have been great improvements recently in Wexford General Hospital's emergency services, unfortunately this type of treatment can still not be carried out there for the people of Wexford who, during the week, can be transferred to Waterford University Hospital cardiology interventional unit where this treatment can be done as an emergency procedure.
'Unfortunately as this unit and service (at Waterford) is closed every week day at 5 p.m. and weekends, patients requiring this treatment have to be transferred to a Dublin hospital for this treatment.' The campaigners say that this would require calling for an ambulance to the ambulance centre in Dublin, and as the transfer of a patient could involve considerably more than the 60- to 90-minute golden hour, 'there will be occasions when this kind of delay may result on permanent cardiac damage, and in some cases death'.
'It therefore seems reasonable that the unit in Waterford maintain a 24/7 presence in view of the extremely short distance and reasonable road access Waterford University Hospital provides for people in parts of County Wexford.'