Rheumatology is an area of medicine that treats arthritis, certain immune diseases, musculoskeletal disorders and osteoporosis. There are more than 100 types of these diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, gout and lupus. Many of the rheumatic diseases feature immune system abnormalities. It can mean days filled with pain, disability and fatigue for many of those living with these types of illnesses, which often have no known cure. Over the past decade however, there has been a huge breakthrough in the treatment of auto-immune diseases in rheumatology such as rheumatoid arthritis with new 'biologic' therapies. These therapies have had a very positive and life-changing effect on those living with these diseases. With early referral, early diagnosis and early treatment, it is now possible for patients with inflammatory arthritis to go into complete remission, something that was unheard of in the past. Due to the huge explosion in research and treatment options in rheumatology, people diagnosed now with inflammatory arthritis face a much more positive future.
Some of these therapies, as well as treatments for osteoporosis, are administered via an infusion. This entails the patient coming into hospital and being attached to a drip. This can be every 4-8 weeks depending on the treatment, and can take 4-6 hours. Previously, before the recent improvements within the Rheumatology Department, patients had to sit in an ordinary hard-backed chair, in a cramped room, without adequate privacy, while these treatments were delivered.
The Rheumatology team at Salisbury Hospital aims to provide a high quality patient-centred approach to care. In order to achieve this within the infusion room, the department secured external funding for three comfortable reclining arm chairs. To further improve the patient experience another £3,000 was required to convert the room into a fully functioning, safe and comfortable environment. The department was extremely happy when the League of Friends agreed to provide this extra funding so that the works could go ahead. This included the installation of curtain tracks and curtains so that privacy could be provided around each treatment chair as required, the repositioning and removal of a cupboard and hand-basin, redecorating and improving the lighting.
The benefits to the patients have been a greatly improved experience in a clean, safe environment with much improved privacy and dignity. The feedback from patients has been very positive.
With the opening of the infusion suite, and the employing of a dedicated infusion nurse, we are able to continue to offer these life-changing therapies in a timely manner to those who require it, making a huge difference to many lives. As the suite is housed within the Rheumatology Outpatient Department and staffed by a dedicated Rheumatology nursing team, the patients can not only use their time whilst with us to receive their therapies, but also obtain education about their disease and medication which enables them to better manage their long-term diseases and utilise our health care facilities appropriately.
On Wednesday, 19th September, the Rheumatology Team at Salisbury Hospital held an open evening and invited patients, hospital members and the public to attend. The event was held to celebrate the official opening of the Rheumatology Infusion Suite and to publicly offer a huge thanks to the League of Friends, as without their kind donation this project could not have gone ahead. The suite was officially opened by George Todd, Chairman of the League of Friends.
Alison Kent, Rheumatology Department Manager