Mahon health centre will be a ‘one-stop-shop’

HEALTH care will be taken to a new level today with the opening in Cork of the country’s largest primary care centre – a ‘one-stop-shop’ for health services.

The developers of the new Blackrock Hall Primacy Care Centre off the Skehard Road in Mahon said the new centre, which boasts hotel-like facilities, will deliver a significantly better health experience for patients and for the community.

It has been estimated that up to 80% of people who attend emergency departments at acute hospitals are there because of a lack of adequate community care.

But because this centre offers a range of health services under one roof, it is expected to ease pressure on the city’s acute hospitals.

The centre has been developed under the Government’s primacy care strategy by Fermoy man Fergus Hoban, a trained pharmacist and chairman of Carr Communications, who is in partnership with property developer John Bowen.

Mr Hoban sold his Unicare chain of pharmacies to German pharmaceutical giant Gehe in 2002 for €127.6 million.

He said Blackrock Hall “is not a building, but a process” which will provide people with an opportunity to avail of earlier intervention and management of rehabilitation in the community.

“We really want this centre to be the beating heart of the local community,” he said.

“Our vision is for this centre to belong to the community and be managed by people already living and working in the community who will know the majority of patients by name. This is the future of primary care.”

Touchstone opened its first primary care clinic in Mulhuddart, Co Dublin in 2004 and Mr Hoban, who has ploughed up to €12m into Blackrock Hall, plans to develop more primary care centres in Cork over the coming years.

From today, nine experienced doctors from three established GP practices in the Mahon, Blackrock and Ballintemple suburbs will relocate to new suites in the facility. They have an estimated 29,000 patients on their books – 12% of all GP patients in the metropolitan Cork area.

The doctors have purchased their own facilities and are not employed by Touchstone.

Patients will be welcomed at a reception desk and escorted into a plush communal waiting area, decorated with soothing colours and complete with plasma TVs, some at children’s eye-level.

They will then be called through double doors to their respective GPs.

The attention to detail means each consultation room has been designed to make patients feel comfortable, and more inclined to discuss at their ease with their GP. There is art work on the walls and soothing lighting.

Touchstone will also provide a range of health services including dentistry, physiotherapy, dietetics, nutrition, psychotherapy, counselling, chiropody and podiatry, osteopathy, acupuncture, clinical massage, dermatology, ophthalmology, speech and language therapy, audiology, domiciliary care and home nursing, diagnostics radiology, clinical pharmacy and dispensing pharmacy, herbalism and health foods.

Its hi-tech dental treatment rooms feature a flat- screen TV on the ceiling so patients can watch their favourite programme while their treatment is in progress.

A range of Health Service Executive services on a separate floor are due to come on stream in May including community nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy as well as mental health services and other health and social care practitioners on a visiting basis.

Mr Hoban said the beauty of the primary care model is that all the healthcare professionals work together under one roof and can discuss cases and professional development, leading to better patient outcomes.

The centre will also have a coffee shop to encourage people to feel it is at the heart of their community.


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