Beaumont Hospital

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Beaumont Opens New Unit for Cystic Fibrosis Patients

Friday December 10, 2010

Beaumont Hospital has just opened a new unit specifically for the treatment of patients who have Cystic Fibrosis. Traditionally a disease of children, improvements in diagnosis and treatment mean that today over 50% of people in Ireland with CF are adults and this proportion is set to rise in the future.

Beaumont is one of jthe largest adult centres in Ireland providing specialist treatment and services to adults with CF.

The new 2,500 square foot unit has been built, at a cost of \3.5 million, with funds provided under a capital allocation from the HSE. The dedicated centre  will facilitate the delivery of a comprehensive range of services by multidisciplinary teams and allow more patients to be seen during each day.

These services including consultations with doctors and nurses, provision of treatments which might otherwise have required hospitalisation, assessment of pulmonary function, physiotherapy, dietetics and psychology.

Dr Cedric Gunaratnam, a respiratory consultant at Beaumont with a special interest in Cystic Fibrosis, says that there are significant benefits for patients in having all services provided in a CF facility as it should be.

The building includes consultation and therapy rooms with air filtration units which allow for 12 air changes per hour, approximately three times the average rate in a normal room. This has significant benefit in reducing the time needed between patients for infection control purposes, which is particularly important for people with CF.

While all appointments have to be scheduled, the new ambulatory day care facility improves patient access to essential services. Along with priority access to a number of  en-suite inpatient rooms, it means that for Beaumont's CF patients admission as an inpatient via the Emergency Department in now a rare occurrence.

The new centre will also contribute to the extensive research activities into CF already well established in Beaumont, principally in collaboration with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

Ireland has highest incidence of CF in the world. One in nineteen Irish people carry a CF gene and 3 per 10,000 have the condition. The incidence in Ireland is almost four times higher than in the US or elsewhere in the EU. It is not surprising, therefore, that Ireland is at the forefront in research into this life threatening and life shortening inherited condition.

This has resulted, for example, in the in-house development of a dedicated electronic record for Beaumont's CF patients, the only such IT facility specifically for CF patients in Ireland.

Under the direction of Professor Gerry McElvaney, Beaumont-based researchers have published extensively on research at both the basic molecular and clinical levels. For example, recent research has shed new light on one important aspect of the condition which will hopefully lead to improved therapies for female CF patients.

Also under Professor McElvaney's lead, Beaumont has become a leader in translational research involving clinical trials. Of a number currently under way, one is of a new drug which promises potentially significant improvements in lung function for people with CF who have a specific gene mutation.

Dr Gunaratnam says that development of the new unit benefited from intense lobbying on behalf of CF patients, including by elected local representatives and the  CF Hopesource Foundation. “We are grateful to everyone who has made this new facility possible, he says.