Projects Supported By Donors
We regularly feature wonderful stories of fundraising for the hospital. Here we feature more examples of the many projects that have been made possible by this fundraising and by donations of all kinds, as well as the practical impact that donors and fundraisers have had on patient care in St. Vincent’s Hospital.
The list is, by no means exhaustive, but does demonstrate how important donors and fundraisers are to the wellbeing of our patients. Broadly the investments are across medical research, medical education and equipment, as well as investments in patient and family comforts, and equipment.
We don’t generally highlight the donors who enabled these projects because many of them are made up of several smaller donations and many of our contributors wish to remain anonymous. Here are just some of the successes.
The investments we feature are making a hugely significant contribution to our patient care and will continue to do so for the years ahead. They clearly evidence that the various efforts our supporters have made to raise funds are central to our capacity to achieve our worldclass potential. We thank them again.
Liver Unit Ultrasound Portable Scanner:
This was identified by a donor, who like many others over the years, wants to remain anonymous. This investment would not have happened at this time without the intervention of this very kind supporter. The machine is in place, fully functional and having a positive impact for patients.
Specialist Exercise Machine for St Anne’s Ward:
We have featured the fundraising success of a former patient, Charlene Murphy, and her husband Padraig. As well as raising funds for a number of hospitals involved in her care and that of her baby Freya, the family purchased an exercise machine (pictured) specifically designed to enable vulnerable patients to exercise in safety from their hospital bed. This is proven to be very effective in the recovery journey of patients and many will benefit from it over the coming years.
Televisions for all Wards:
It was obvious to us that the quality and reliability of the televisions in wards was quite inadequate so with funds donated from many sources, St. Vincent’s Foundation paid for a full T.V. upgrade programme, and replacement, in the majority of cases. This has been completed and, particularly for long-stay patients, has improved immeasurably the comfort during their time in the hospital.
Specialist Nurse Education:
During the Covid-19 period, St. Vincent’s significantly increased the staffing in our Intensive Care Unit (ICU). To enable these additional staff to be at their most effective they completed a specialist post-graduate qualification in UCD. Enabled by many donations, St. Vincent’s Foundation was able to finance approx. 10 of these course with immediate and enduring enhancement of patient care in ICU. Ann Flynn, Director of Nursing makes reference to this in her article in our 2022 Friends of St. Vincent’s magazine. In addition we supported advanced Nurse Education in Rheumatology.
Breast Cancer Research:
Continuing the success of a collaboration with Trinity College, we continued to fund a programme of research into a specific aspect of Breast Cancer. It has delivered very positive progress to date leading, as we have highlighted before, to further substantial funding from external sources to great effect. We expect to continue to support this work.
PhD Support in Medical Specialties:
Continuing education is vital to gaining insights and improvements in modern medicine and has been an area of support from St. Vincent’s Foundation. During this last year we were able to support staff in PhD programmes in partnership with University College Dublin, in Respiratory medicine, Chronic illness, Radiology, Infectious Diseases and Liver Disease.
Publication of Specialist Medical Research Papers:
Advances in medical science and consequent patient outcomes are propelled by a collaborative approach among medical and scientific communities around the world. Central to this is the publication of Investigative papers and sharing of findings. St. Vincent’s Foundation was proud to fund some of these papers.
Major research in Obesity:
For many years, under the guidance of Prof Donal O’Shea (pictured), St. Vincent’s has been able, through the generosity of donors, to provide very significant funding for this important medical discipline. The contribution this year is better expanded by this insight from the team:
“In 2020, a novel virus we now know as SARS-COV-2 rapidly emerged on the world. This virus caused COVID-19 a respiratory disease which proved to be fatal in over 6.5 million individuals. Based on previous viral pandemics we predicted that people living with obesity would be at greater risk, with more severe outcomes. Unfortunately this was confirmed with PWO (People with Obesity) more likely to be; infected with, hospitalised with and die from
Luckily a suite of vaccines were developed quicker than ever before, dramatically changing outcomes. However a major concern persisted – would the vaccines be effective in PWO. Studies from influenza and hepatitis indicated that PWO have sub-optimal vaccine responses, resulting in loss of protection. It was unknown if the same was true for COVID-19 infection and vaccination.
We wanted to answer this unknown as quickly as possible. We received very generous philanthropic funding via St. Vincent’s Foundation which allowed us to start these studies immediately. In collaboration with both Prof Patrick Mallon and the Irish Coalition for People with Obesity (ICPO) which rapidly recruited cohorts of individuals who were recovering from Covid-19 or who had received the Covid-19 vaccine, and set about answering the unknown.
We have since completed and published two studies (Wrigley-Kelly et al Obesity 2022 & Wrigley-Kelly et alInternational Journal of Obesity 2022) which shows that PWO can generate protective immunity after recovering from or being vaccinated against COVID-19, which is excellent news.” Photo from I.C.P.O. (Irish Coalition for People Living with Obesity) promoting positive images of people living with Obesity
We think this is an opportune time to share some information on two major areas of activity in St. Vincent’s, which involve organ transplantation. These have proven to be life-changing for so many patients and demonstrate in a terrific way the outcomes that can be achieved.
Liver Unit and Liver Transplants:
The Transplant programme started in St. Vincent’s in 1993 and we are the National Centre for Liver Transplants. The Centre in St. Vincent’s was officially opened by the then Minister for Health, Mr Brendan Howlin. Initially the programme was operated, for two years, in liaison with Kings College Hospital, London where a similar programme had been running for some time. Within a relatively short period the Irish programme was achieving similar results to those experienced in the UK.
Over the 29 years since inception the specialised team in St. Vincent’s has transplanted almost 1,300 patients with a yearly average now of 55 to 60. Patients from all over Ireland are treated for Liver disease, some requiring transplants, many not so. To meet these patients is to experience the human success of the programme which has been life-saving in so many cases and equally life-transforming in so many others. People have been able to resume full lifestyles while continuing to be monitored and cared for in the hospitals.
Donors and fundraisers have always contributed to the success of the Liver Programme. Each and every supporter should be proud in the knowledge that everything they have done has facilitated investment in specialist training, in medical equipment and in
research. Together these enable St. Vincent’s to be a world-class facility for this treatment.
A constraint on Transplantation programmes is the availability of donor organs. We are all encouraged to carry donor cards and record our donor intention on our driving licences where relevant. We would appeal to all to give this positive consideration.
Pancreas Transplant Programme:
In 2016 St. Vincent’s University Hospital was established as the new home of the National Pancreas Transplant Programme. The surgical teams from Beaumont Hospital and SVUH work closely together, in SVUH, to carry out the Simultaneous Pancreas & Kidney (S.P.K.) transplants. Since then, there have been 27 transplants carried out, including 8 transplants in 2022.
SVUH provides a Consultant led Pancreas Transplant Service for those patients with Type 1 Diabetes. Mr Tom Gallagher, Dr John Holian and Dr Aisling O’Riordan have taken the lead in this matter.
Patients who require a simultaneous pancreas and kidney transplant are cared for in SVUH by a multi-disciplinary team, which combines the expertise of the surgical team and nephrologists in SVUH with the renal transplant team from Beaumont Hospital.
As the programme continues to grow in SVUH, we hope to increase the yearly transplant numbers. This can only be achieved through awareness and with the continued selfless generosity of donors and donor families to whom we are so grateful for.
Finally, we want to say a big thank you to fundraisers and donors and to the families of those, who by donating organs, gave the chance of life to others after their death.
St. Michael’s Hospital Dietetics:
In an innovative project, St. Michael’s Hospital created an interesting and highly effective Dietary Management system for patients. Included in the investment were specialist Robot food blenders and Robot sieving equipment.
Information Technology for Patient Care:
We financed laptop and ipad equipment for better information management in clinical ward settings leading to quicker inputs to patient treatment.
Financed by restricted Rheumatology funds in St. Vincent’s Foundation we were able to support the purchase of a Karl Storz Camera System for care of patients in Rheumatology for which we are very grateful. In addition patient care was enhanced by the acquisition of additional Rheumatology scopes.
In addition to formal education and engagement in medical practice, attendance at specialist conferences is extremely effective in sharing experiences and in growing expertise. During the year we were pleased to assist staff in attending such conferences including Psycho-Oncology, Pain Management and Orthopaedics.
We should also express our gratitude to a number of Pharmaceutical companies who have supported these conferences with educational grants.
Support for Research Centres:
In co-operation with Biobank Trust Ireland, we assisted in obtaining additional freezer equipment for the Biological Resource Centre (BRC) in the Education & Research Centre, in the hospital. This will supplement the capacity for carrying out their vital work in medical research.
The BRC is used to collect, process and bank patient samples for research purposes, both clinical and translational. The BRC provides a dedicated environment for the storage of samples that are under 24/7 temperature monitoring and personalized barcode labelling system for reliable sample management and tracking.
The Foundation was delighted to provide financial support for the Sleep Laboratory within the Respiratory Medicine Dept. of the hospital and will continue to be involved.
Regency Chair for ICU:
We have featured the fundraising of the family of the late Paddy Conway. We are delighted that one of the benefits of this was the acquisition of a Regency Chair (pictured) specifically designed for use in an Intensive Care Unit environment. The benefits of this type of chair are enormous, meeting the particular needs of patients and those who care for them in I.C.U.
Pouches for St. Anne’s:
While his mother was being treated in St. Vincent’s, Damien Redmond came up with the great idea of making pouches for the pumps used in patient care in the hospital. The hand-made pouches, which take hours to sew, are superb. They are loved and appreciated by patients and make a real difference in their care environment. Sadly, Damien’s mum passed away in October 2022 and is greatly missed by her family. The pouches are, hopefully, a lasting testament to her memory. Damien is pictured presenting some of the pouches to C.N.M. Naomi Leacy & Dr Claire Andrews, Consultant Haematologist.
Specialist Chairs for the Liver Unit;
Enabled by generous donations and fundraising we were able to purchase specialist chairs for St. Brigid’s Ward. A Regency electric chair was purchased in early 2020. This chair will mean that higher dependency patients will be able to sit out; a significant contribution to their care and recovery. In September 2020, a specialist Perry chair was purchased to assist patients with mobility issues. These chairs are a major contribution to patient care and comfort in our Liver Unit and we are most grateful to the donors involved.
Tiernan Family Support for Patients:
Dr. Eoin Tiernan heads Palliative Care in St Vincent’s and this role led to a great contribution to the barriers facing patients and their families in the Covid-19 environment.
Having experienced the challenges faced by patients requiring isolation in St. Vincent’s because of Covid 19, Dr. Tiernan shared the challenge with his family. The response was immediate. His wife, Sandra, and his children immediately sought support for supplying iPads and other communication devices, so that patients could communicate with their loved ones, often in the most difficult of circumstances.
The scale of the response was such that they were able to extend the support way beyond the hospital to residents in nursing homes and elsewhere. So far, they have received over 140 iPads. The need is very great and more support would be very welcome.
Televisions in Wards:
It may seem very ordinary but for patients, particularly those who have a longer stay in hospital, access to a working television is a major contribution to their comfort. Because of the help given to St Vincent’s
Foundation we have been able to install televisions in many wards at a total cost of c.€24,000 per ward. We will continue to support this and we thank those who enabled us to do so.
Equipment purchased for Cystic Fibrosis Patient care:
A grant from St Vincent’s Foundation enabled the C.F. Unit in the hospital to purchase a Vest Airway Clearance System. Physiotherapist, Ronan Buckley explains below the patient benefits from this equipment.
“Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a multi-organ disease, mainly effecting the lungs and digestive system. It is caused by a defective gene that results in the production of thick and sticky mucus. People with C.F. perform physiotherapy based airway clearance breathing exercises to clear this mucus from the lungs on a daily basis. In varying circumstances, people may not be able to actively participate in this airway clearance in their usual way. In these scenarios, The Vest Airway Clearance System offers an alternative method. It is a garment, like a life jacket, which provides vibrations to the chest wall to dislodge mucus from the lungs. St. Vincent’s Foundation has provided funding to the C.F. Physiotherapy Team at The National Referral Centre for Adult Cystic Fibrosis here in St. Vincent’s University Hospital to purchase the Vest. The whole C.F. team feel this will assist them in their goal of providing the highest quality of care to those attending the centre.”
Donor support for C.F.:
As the National Centre for Adult Cystic Fibrosis in Ireland, we continue to enhance our capability in this area because of the generosity of donors that we highlight so often in these pages. To improve efficiency and response to patients needs we invested in communications technology for the ward area.
For patient comfort, we purchased state-of-the-art Dyson Fans for St. Christopher’s C.F. Ward. These are particularly important as patients with C.F. often have to isolate in their own rooms, even in warm weather.
As part of ongoing research into C.F., we supported the unit in the acquisition of monitoring equipment to determine the effect of exercise on symptoms and well-being. This work goes on.
Similarly we grant aided a joint UCD/St. Vincent’s research study in Cystic Fibrosis under Prof. Ed McKone. Prof. McKone outlines “We are very grateful to St. Vincent’s Foundation for supporting work we are doing in collaboration with C.F. Centres in Seattle and Iowa, looking at the impact of new C.F. drugs and how they are improving quality of life and need for hospitalisation in our C.F. patients”
Frailty Car initiative:
St. Vincent’s Foundation is delighted to support the purchase, in partnership with St. Vincent’s University Hospital, of a specialist vehicle for delivery of patient care for the EDITH (Emergency Department in the Home) service.
The initiative, to shift care from Emergency Department (ED) to a team travelling to patients’ homes, follows a trial period from early 2020 and is now firmly established as an effective way of treating patients. The suitable cohort of patients include those suffering dehydration, falls, pain and orthostatic hypotension. The visiting team will typically be an ED doctor, Occupational Health staff and an Advanced Paramedic. Karen Donohoe, Business & Operations Manager, SVUH summarises the effectiveness of the project:
“…The Team see, review and treat an average of 10 patients/day and to date approx. 91% of this group have been able to have their complete episode of care provided in their home. Of the 9% who required conveyance to Hospital some of these required attendance for diagnostics only and were able to go home immediately afterwards and did not require overnight admission. To date, almost 3,000 patients have benefited from this service, which has been a resounding success and a positive innovation for the patients, the staff and the hospital as a whole of which we are very proud…”
Since then this initiative has been recognised nationally for an Ireland East Healthcare Innovation Award and a HSE Excellence Award. Congratulations to all the team involved. This project wouldn’t have been possible without donor support.
Owing to the success of the original installation there has been an increased demand from patients for access to the system while undergoing Chemotherapy. St Vincent’s Foundation funded the equipment at the start and is pleased to finance the expansion as well as cover the costs of elements that have to be replaced over time.
Investment in Intensive Care:
The Intensive Care Unit in St. Vincent’s capacity has been boosted by the appointment of additional staff for the area. This investment is optimised by sponsoring staff members to undertake the Post-Graduate qualification in Intensive Care. The cost for each participant is c.€8,000 and St. Vincent’s Foundation is proud to have financed much of the cost. The impact for future patients will be highly beneficial.
Additional iPad support for ICU:
Based on the success of an earlier investment on adapting iPads for patient use in the Intensive Care Unit, we were able to add to the access there. I.C.U. presents particular challenges for patient’s use of technology and the specialist engineering staff there were able to custom-design the units to great effect. We were delighted to provide the finance for this.
We financed the purchase of an Ultrasound Probe. This is of primary benefit in treating patients with kidney cancer. It enhances the capacity of the Robotic Surgery system which St. Vincent’s Foundation enabled some years ago and which has been most successful.
Endoscopy Discharge Lounge:
We were delighted to finance the refurbishment of the Endoscopy Discharge Lounge in the hospital. This has made a huge difference to the comfort and dignity of patients in this medical area. Previously the environment was unsuitable for what was required.
Stroke Unit equipment purchase:
Through the generosity of a kind bequest to St. Vincent’s Stroke Unit, we were able to purchase a Cortrak machine for the Unit. The benefits of the Cortrak machine are summarised by Imelda Noone, Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Stroke Unit: “Each year approx 120 stroke patients are admitted to St. Vincent’s with a swallowing problem and require an NG tube for essential feeding. The Cortrak machine is a real time computerised system that ensures that the tube is correctly placed at all times avoiding the need for XRay. It allows earlier commencement of feeding. The impacts on safety and patient care are immense”
We have mentioned earlier that the response to the hospital need for help in battling Covid-19 was phenomenal. Apart from the enabled purchases we have outlined above, we have also financed to a total cost of €643,000 the following:
¨ Full ventilator system including carts and Restrainers
¨ Line Stacks and pumps
¨ Patient monitors
¨ Nine Philips Monitors
¨ A Magna Pure ICU system
We spent a further €100,000 on:
¨ Additional specialist training for nurses in the Intensive Care Unit
¨ Covid-19 related research projects
These were enabled by the many, many donations and fundraising events for Covid-19 care and we were particularly fortunate to receive two very large donations where the donors asked for anonymity.
Wheelchairs for St Christopher’s Ward (C.F. Unit):
Having had family members in St. Christopher’s over lengthy periods, one family saw that the environment could be improved by having more wheelchairs available. Having raised funds they enabled us to buy three additional chairs.
Research into early diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer:
Like so many other medical conditions, the treatment of Pancreatic Cancer is much more effective if recognised early. A current project sponsored by the fundraising of one family has financed this work.
Joint research with Trinity College into multi-generational Breast Cancer:
This is potentially a very exciting project in collaboration with The Smurfit Institute of Genetics in TCD. The participation of St. Vincent’s is financed by a number of donors including one major donor who has stipulated that they remain anonymous.
Reclining chairs for C.F. patient rooms:
Many family members spend long periods including overnights at the bedside of patients. The purchase of these reclining chairs greatly improves the comfort of users and we are grateful to those who made it possible.
As St. Vincent’s is the National Liver Transplant Centre, the commitment to research is vital. The generosity of donors has allowed us to engage in comprehensive research activity year on year and this is ongoing.
Each year we are able to support staff in developing their capacity to care for patients by attending at courses or specialised conferences. Sometime this is from specific grants from sponsors and in many cases from patient and family supporters.
Laboratory equipment for E.R.C.:
Donated money enabled purchase of vital equipment for the laboratories in the Education & Research Centre (E.R.C.) improving our research capabilities.