Mobile x-ray unit launches TB testing clinic

Ireland's first mobile x-ray unit has launched a TB testing clinic for homeless people.

It is a collaboration between the medical charity Safetynet and St James' Hospital in Dublin.

The unit allows people who are sleeping rough to be screened for infection and get the right follow-up care.

It began a health check blitz at community sites easily accessible by homeless people and vulnerable migrants around various locations across Dublin last week.

Safetynet's Dr Fiona O'Reilly says they are working with homeless support centres.

"It's a big truck, basically, and it's been converted," said Dr O'Reilly.

"There's an x-ray room on it, there's a waiting room on it and there's a consultation room on it.

"We drive up to any of the services, we have a radiographer, we have doctors and nurses.

People can have their cup of tea and they can come out, step onto the unit and in five minutes get an x-ray and blood test.

Safetynet, through collaboration with St. James’s Hospital, will bring the voluntary health testing to emergency accommodations for homeless people and other community sites.

From left to right; Ms Kerry Lombard, Safetynet, Dr Fiona O’Reilly, General Manager, Safetynet, Dr Margaret Fitzgerald, National Public Health Lead Social Inclusion and Vulnerable Groups, Ms Diane Nurse, National Lead, HSE Social Inclusion, Dr Bridget Kiely, GP Lead, Dr Niall Sheehy, Consultant Radiologist, St. James’s Hospital and Mark Gilvarry, Project Manager, HSE NIMIS National Team.

The new mobile unit has been networked to NIMIS (The National Integrated Medical Imaging System) and St. James’s Hospital. This means that St. James’s Hospital radiologists can report on X-rays taken on board the vehicle from any location across the country.

The X-rays and results are also available to view in any hospital operating the NIMIS system.

"The mobile X-ray unit now functions exactly as if it were a room in St. James's," said Dr Niall Sheehy, consultant radiologist at St. James’s Hospital.

"No matter where it is in Ireland, radiologists and other experts both in St. James's and around the country can review the findings and report on them immediately.

"This is the first time such a unit has been connected to NIMIS and was set up with the help of IT staff in St. James's, the NIMIS national team and NIMIS Vendor Change Healthcare."

The homeless population have multiple risk factors that increase their risk of tuberculosis. They also face many barriers to accessing healthcare.

The mobile health and screening unit helps to overcome these barriers by bringing healthcare to the most vulnerable groups.

Digital Desk

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