Limerick nurses win a ‘wee’ award 

Bernadette Higgins and Anne Murray with the national Spark Ignite award.

TWO nurses at the Department of Public Health Mid-West have received a top award in recognition of their innovative idea to collect urine samples in a cleaner way and make it easier to diagnose infections.

Public Health Mid-West’s Assistant Director of Nursing, Bernadette Higgins, and Clinical Nurse Manager 2 in Health Protection, Anne Murray, won the National Spark Ignite award and €3,000 seed funding for their ‘Wee Catch It’ app at the recent annual Spark Innovation Programme conference in Dublin.

The Spark Ignite award seeks innovative ideas from the 115,000 HSE employees aiming to improve patient and healthcare outcomes.

Collecting a clean, accurate midstream urine sample in babies, children and adults with incontinence in an efficient and hygienic way is challenging and can lead to contamination of samples and often results in unnecessary antibiotic prescribing and costly, unplanned hospital admissions.

Bernadette and Anne had previously won the Regional Spark Ignite award and €3,000 seed funding in early June.

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‘Wee Catch It’ is currently in prototype development phase, and the Public Health nurses will now work towards developing the unique product and software for national and international use.

Said Bernadette: “Winning this prestigious award in such a high calibre competition has given the validation to believe in the innovation MedTech device ‘Wee Catch it’ and drive it forward.  We are an example of how passionate, creative nurses are in an ideal position to invent and develop ideas as we spend more time with patients. Nurses have a wealth of knowledge of how products work and can make patients’ and healthcare workers’ lives better.”

Anne Murray commented: “As a parent, I know the distress of trying to get a urine sample from a baby. As nurses, our patients are the centre of all we do. We want to be able to deliver the best patient experience we can in an effective, efficient, simple, comfortable, safe and cost effective way. ‘Wee Catch It’ does all this.”