WORK on a new €9.5 million Radiology Department at Letterkenny University Hospital will commence in the coming weeks, it has emerged.
The contract award for the new unit was formally approved on Friday afternoon last and work is expected to take eighteen months to complete.
Mr Sean Murphy, General Manager, said the new unit will contain the most modern X-Ray, Dexa, Ultra Sound and MRI scanning facilities together with two CT scanners.
It will also see the former coffee dock transformed into a state of the art intervention suite which will allow LUH Consultants to carry out highly specialised procedures which, up until, now have to be performed at hospitals in Dublin or Galway.
“There will be significant disruption over the coming months as the Radiology Department is in the heart of the hospital but it’s the last really big project in the rebuild post the 2013 floods,” Mr Murphy said.
The works involve extensive structural works, new mechanical and electrical services, and the installation of clinical equipment in the existing Radiology Department which was completely flooded out four years ago.
“We’re going to have to demolish large chunks of the existing area. With dust, noise and vibrations we can’t run CT and MRI in those conditions.
“An area in front of the Medical Education Centre which is vacant at present will be converted into a new CT room with the Friends of Letterkenny Hospital purchasing the new equipment.
“When that’s in place we’ll disconnect the existing CT unit while we’ll make alternative arrangements for MRI scanning. Early in the New Year you’ll see the start of the demolition and reconstruction work. It’s a major build in the heart of the hospital which will become a building site for about twelve months.
“The end result though is that we’ll be one of very few Level 3 hospitals in the country with two CT scanners.
“The area that used to be the old coffee dock will then be turned into a state of the art intervention suite – a very specialised area – which will allow us to do procedures which, up until now, we never had the technology to do which led to patients from Letterkenny travelling to Dublin or Galway to have done,” Mr Murphy said.
Meanwhile, the Short Stay Ward at LUH was closed to patients on Thursday last although Mr Murphy stressed that the move does not adversely affect bed capacity.
“The new Coronary Care and Haematology Oncology wards opened up additional beds in recent months and we’ve simply moved patients from the oldest part of the hospital into the new accommodation which leaves the Short Stay ward empty,” Mr Murphy said.
However, the fact that there’s additional bed capacity within the hospital has allowed management to seek additional funding.
“We’re already applied for funding under next year’s Service Plan to reopen the ward as those extra beds would help to relieve ongoing pressures as well as increasing the bed compliment in LUH to its largest ever.
“There’s some really good things happening within Letterkenny hospital. What we really need now though is that extra little push to get things over the line. With a little more investment and a bit more resources we could do brilliant things,” Mr Murphy said.
Mr O’Rourke, who earns around €185,000 a year, has been working in Letterkenny for the past twenty-one years.