A NEW era in healthcare and medical research in the Mid West got underway last Monday with the official opening of two flagship projects on the University Hospital Limerick (UHL) campus.
Minister of State Jim Daly cut the ribbon on the UL Clinical Education and Research Centre (CERC), and launched the Health Sciences Academy as one of its most significant initiatives.
A partnership between UL Hospitals Group, University of Limerick (UL), and HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare, the academy aims to become a global standard-bearer for improving patient care through medical research, education, clinical and community-based practice.
The €12.75 million CERC facility accommodates the educational, training and research needs of the UL Hospitals Group medical community, and the UL Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS).
With a 150-seat lecture theatre and tutorial rooms, it also has a library, offices for academic, administrative and technical support staff, research facilities, and a dedicated research area for the UL Health Research Institute.
The four-storey building is also a symbol of the Health Science Academy and its efforts to establish the Irish Mid-West as a global exemplar of hospital and community-based health services.
Health Sciences Academy Manager Miriam McCarthy described it as a bridge between the University of Limerick, UL Hospitals Group, and Mid-West Community Healthcare.
“Patient care priorities for the region, in hospitals and in community settings, will inform the research agenda and shape staff education needs, reinforcing relationships between the three partner organisations,” she explained
The Academy’s undergraduate and postgraduate programmes will develop students’ clinical and research skills as well as exposing them to the wealth of innovative and technological developments in collaboration with UL.
A Junior Health Sciences Academy will embed the collaborative ethos within primary, secondary and post-secondary education locally, to encourage the Mid-West healthcare and medical research leaders of the future.
UL Hospitals Group Chief Academic Officer Professor Paul Burke said that prioritised research areas would include diabetes care, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), acute kidney injury, cancer treatment, and exercise in health (MedEx).
Current projects at the Health Sciences Academy include a clinical practice project on the care of people living with, or at risk of Type 2 Diabetes in the Mid-West.
The academy is also involved in Optimend, which has a specific objective of improving outcomes for patients aged over 65 years. Based on a study of older patients in the Emergency Department at UHL, it has shown that recommended interventions can shorten the length of stays for older adults and reduce rates of hospital admission.