Patient care at the heart of latest investment at Mater Private Cork

Mater Private Cork will add another 25 staff members once it adds two now operating theatres and a 30-bed day care ward by the end of 2019.

Patient care at the heart of latest investment at Mater Private Cork

Mater Private Cork will add another 25 staff members once it adds two now operating theatres and a 30-bed day care ward by the end of 2019.

Once completed, this latest €4 million investment in the private hospital’s facility in Citygate, Mahon, will have six operating theatres and 150 beds, between in-patient and day care. The new jobs to come with the fourth floor expansion will see Mater Private recruit new consultants, nurses, a range of other health professional roles, as well as technical and admin staff.

“Recruitment is not a big challenge for us,” said Donna Roche, hospital manager, Mater Private Cork. “We receive applications and CVs every day from quality experienced people. We are very lucky in filling our places, and we have a very good retention rate. I’d put that down to our good staff communications, our flexibility with the rosters and our focus on ensuring people have a good work-life balance.

We also know that our focus and dedication to our patients makes this a fulfilling place for our staff to work. Our entire focus is on giving our patients the best possible experience. That really is our main aim in our lives.

Donna says she understands the frustration that many public sector healthcare professionals can feel, where their overflowing workloads are well documented. Around 85% of Mater Private Cork’s work is scheduled appointments, the other 15% is in its emergency department, which is open Monday to Friday.

“We are lucky in the private sector in that there are some things we don’t have to deal with,” said Donna. “We don’t have the overflows that you see in public hospitals. We don’t have people on trolleys, which is a very hard thing for a caring health professional to face every day.

“With our emergency department, we encourage people to phone first, to make sure they have the appropriate health insurance cover; there are over 300 insurance plans. Many people also come with a referral from their GP.

“We are also seeing growth in the Self-Pay market. That might be patients who was an X-Ray or a CT scan and don’t want to wait on a long public hospital waiting list. Or it might be an older person who needs a cataract procedure, but they don’t have the insurance cover. The procedure might cost €2,000 and their family members pool together to pay for it.”

Expansion seems a near constant at Mater Private Cork, which has grown from around 100 staff in January 2012 to more than 400 today. It has 50 consultants, a mix of staff and some external experts. Mater Private has hospitals in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Liverpool, along with a growing number of outreach clinics.

Today, the sky is the limit for the hospital, which some will recall got off to a rocky start. First launched in 2010 in Shanakiel, Cork, it closed its doors after only six months as it failed to get the VHI to agree to give private insurance cover for its patients. It reopened in 2012 and has soared ever since, with its move to Citygate just one of many expansive decisions driven by demand. In May 2018, French company Infravia acquired Mater Private from the US fund Harbourvest in a deal thought to value the business at about €500m.

Infravia’s current €4m investment in Mater Private Cork picks up where the December 2017 expansion left off. In all, the Cork facility covers 20 service categories. The top five categories are cardiology, orthopaedic, spine, eye and urology services.

The 2017 investment saw the consultants move into The Plaza, a neighbouring Citygate building. The hospital now has a dedicated orthopaedic and spine service (Munster’s only spine service) with a multidisciplinary physio. Visitors to the Mahon facility are also impressed by all the Apple Macs on view. The keeps its patients’ electronic records on iMedOP, software customised for Mater Private by KM Medical.

Of course, all of this investment and development has the patient experience at its core. And that experience is tightly linked to the happiness of the hospital’s staff.

“We have a big focus on the patient experience,” adds Donna Roche. “We regularly conduct patient surveys and act on the things they want improved. Their number one problem was difficulty in parking, so we now have two people full-time on free valet parking.

The patient arrives at the door, the valet takes their car away and parks it. That has alleviated their anxiety on that issue. Patients also said they didn’t like their name being called out, so they’re now given a beeper. That beeper system has also proven popular.

“We survey our patients every month and hold weekly meetings to discuss services and innovations for our patients. Some patients send us suggestions anonymously, to which we also listen closely. We try very hard to create a positive experience for our patients and our staff. “We also have an in-house psychotherapist, who helps both patients and staff. She introduced a wellness programme and a meditation room, a quiet room with a lava lamp where staff can go to relax. It is all built towards ensuring the best possible experience.”

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