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Chemotherapy rooms for patients at new Mater Hospital building 'overcrowded'

The hospital said this is a temporary set-up until a purpose built day unit is completed next year.

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Image: Inside the new chemotherapy treatment rooms for day patients at the Whitty Wing.

FACILITIES FOR DAY patients receiving chemotherapy at the Mater Hospital’s new building in Dublin have been criticised as ‘cramped’ and ‘uncomfortable’ with rooms designed for one patient being used to treat up to four people.

The daughter of one patient told TheJournal.ie that she is struggling to understand why this unit has been temporarily moved from the older part of the hospital to the new Whitty Wing until a purpose-built unit is completed next year.

In the older unit, patients were kept together in a large room for chemotherapy but could close over curtains for privacy and have family members sit with them.

“It wasn’t exactly perfect but it was fit for purpose and the waiting area was more designed for family members,” she said.

“In this new part there are three or four per room designed for one person – they’re tiny.”

Daunting

Many patients receiving treatment can be in the room from early morning until late at night and she said the rooms are so “overcrowded” there is not even space for another chair so that family members can sit with patients.

“I can’t explain how daunting it is, especially the first or second time a patient comes in, and to have someone there with you makes a difference,” she commented. “And the family waiting area is tiny and at the end of a corridor down where the watercooler is.”

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Image: The new waiting area for family members in the Whitty Wing.

There’s no dignity and no privacy either – people can hear everything that’s going on. When you come, in they ask you about side effects you’ve had each time – that can be quite private – and everyone is there just sitting around in a circle in the room.

Temporary

In response to a query from TheJournal.ie, the hospital said that a purpose-built oncology/haematology day unit on Level 7 of the new Whitty Wing is “advancing”.

This new facility will have ample space for private consultation enhancing patient comfort. The current day ward is a temporary facility only.

On the issue of privacy, the hospital said screen facilities are used for patients requiring procedures and “areas for private conversations are available and used, eg a family room”.

The new day unit is expected to be completed in the first half of 2014.

In its statement, the hospital said it is important to note that the entire oncology/haematology division successfully relocated to a new “state-of-the-art unit” in November 2012, now with greater capacity, a reduction in hospital acquired infection and increased dignity and privacy for patients.

“It is our ambition that the new day ward will match these facilities for day patients,” they added.

Read: Mater Hospital Emergency Department to close for 18 hours for relocation>

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