Health News Ireland talks to Screening Nurse Edel Ruddy about the skin scourge that is Malignant Melanoma and how best to battle it… MALIGNANT Melanoma. Two words that are becoming more common every time you open a newspaper, or turn on the radio. Saturation coverage can do two things: it can scare the bejiggers out of you; or it can spur you to action. In the case of something like malignant melanoma, speed is of the essence…speed of detection, speed of treatment. Edel Ruddy is a screening nurse with a special interest in the treatment of melanoma. She shared her thoughts with Health News Ireland. “A mole is a build-up of melanin within the cells of the skin. A melanoma is a cancer of the cells of a mole.” Edel, who works for The Mole Clinic in Dublin, says a melanoma spreads only so far before it begins to penetrate deeper. “There are different types of melanoma. The Superficial Spreading form affects the upper layers of the skin. But this can dive into the body if left undetected and untreated,” says Edel Ruddy. “We would be encouraging people to examine all areas of their body for mole growths, or a change in the structure of the mole – and to act quickly.” She says more younger people are being detected with suspicious melanomas. “I personally have had a patient who developed a malignant melanoma when she was as young as 15.” Particularly Susceptible She says that there is another form of the condition that doesn’t receive that much coverage. It goes by the name of Subungual Melanoma. “This is a skin cancer that develops underneath the nails of your skin. So, again, it is vitally important to check the nails for bruising.” Irish people are particularly susceptible to sun damage. In fact, three out of every 4 Irish people have a skin type that falls in Type 1 or Type 2. Type 1 is skin that always burns but never tans; Type 2 is skin that tans, but with difficulty. “Essentially, part of our problem lies in the fact that we have less melanin in the body to act as a barrier against the worst excesses of the sun,” says Edel. She says that Sun Beds are also proving a big problem in the area of skin health. “Sun Beds are a huge factor in developing skin cancer. Before the age of 35, you increase the risk by as much as 75% through Sun Bed usage. In the North (of Ireland) the use of Sun Beds is actually banned for people under the age of 18. “Another thing that people may not pay that much attention to is Sun Bed usage can also act as a major factor in ageing the skin.” Edel Ruddy trained as a general nurse in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, before transferring to a nursing home to work. She then re-trained in Skin Cancer Dermoscopy and eventually found her way to The Mole Clinic where she now specialises in skin cancer screening.
Archive for May, 2012
Rory Hafford talks to Catherina McKiernan about her plans to get the children of Ireland running their way to better health… CATHERINA McKiernan is looking very fresh-faced. I haven’t seen her for some time; years, actually. But, standing before me now, her little boy Patrick at her hip, she looks the picture of health. She’s retired from top-class running, but the love of the sport that has shaped her body and moulded her mind has never left her. She carries it with her in the way she moves and in the language she uses. She completed the recent Great Ireland Run and it had an effect on her. It brought back that buzz she used to get from running. It refocused her mind. It re-doubled her efforts to bring the same excitement to children all over Ireland. She has a new task now: she wants to champion health and fitness in Irish schoolchildren. And, with the help of some of her running buddies, she is determined to get it over the line. “I bet, when you came up my road, there wasn’t one child out playing,” she said, throwing me a knowing look. She was right. The road was empty. Bereft of shouts and screams and laughter. Silence reigned. A new Ireland is born. A country ‘at play’ in front of a computer screen. Fitness levels have dipped alarmingly. Obesity stalks the nation’s children like a bloated wolf. The project she’s working on is called K-Day and it’s designed to get the nation’s kids moving. Ultimately, it is a forum to encourage Ireland’s schoolchildren to complete a marathon jointly, by chunking it up into little, bite-sized pieces. “The lack of fitness is frightening,” says Catherina, shaking her head slightly. You get the impression that she is at a bit of a loss to explain how we got to this point. It used to be so different. Driven Home “Parents have to take some of the responsibility. Kids are being driven up to the school gates and then they are being collected and driven home. No-body seems to want to walk anymore,” she tells Health News Ireland. “Maybe it would be a good idea if we held some seminars for parents on healthy eating, because the proper food is not being fed to the kids, in my opinion.” Life is busy for Catherina McKiernan at the moment. Too busy, in some respects. She is in great demand for her Chi Running programmes, which she rolls out around the country; she has two children to look after; and a husband with a high-profile RTE job. Her Chi Running classes attract people from all walks of life and different fitness levels. She has been doing these classes for some time now; so much so that she has it down to a few essential bullet points: “Chi Running is about instilling good mechanics. It’s about developing good posture. It’s about becoming more body aware. It’s about finding ways to release the tension that you hold in your body. It’s about learning to land mid-foot. It’s about working with gravity and not against it…” There is passion in her voice as she talks about running. It’s a passion that she can, hopefully, instil in the young people of Ireland. A half-an-hour a week is set aside for Physical Education in Irish schools at the moment. It’s a paltry amount of time that Catherina describes as “crazy”. She’s driven to do something to rectify this. It’s an idea she is determined to run with…
New website gives pregnant women and new parents expert advice from top healthcare professionals. Thomas Wilson has the story… A NEW website has been launched that should be of interest to expectant and new mums. It’s called www.whatsupmum.ie and it has the full support of the HSE. The site, which was developed by Healthcare Help Ltd, gives pregnant women and new parents access to expert advice from midwives, gynaecologists, paediatricians and other healthcare professionals. It even includes a Web TV section which has short films on topics ranging from ante-natal care in pregnancy, to bathing and feeding a newborn. A DVD is also available free of charge from local Public Health Nurses. Whatsupmum.ie is endorsed by the HSE National Clinical Lead for Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Prof Michael Turner, the Masters of the maternity hospitals and other healthcare professionals from around the country. Easy Access “The aim of this project is to provide every new and expectant mother in Ireland with free and easy access to expert, practical advice from world-class HSE medical professionals,” says Michelle Berkery, MD of Healthcare Help Ltd. “For the first time ever, this information can be easily accessed all over Ireland through web TV and a collection of Apps to download from iTunes, all of which are free of charge.” Prof Michael Turner, HSE National Clinical Programme Director for Obstetrics and Gynaecology welcomes the addition: “The HSE is pleased to support this exciting new resource. This technology is the way forward for all expectant mums, especially those who are juggling very busy lives. “Whatsupmum features clinical professionals from throughout the country, many of whom will be recognised by new mothers and expectant women and is representative of quite a number of the maternity services across the country.” Sheila Sugrue, HSE National Office of Nursing and Midwifery added: “The HSE is pleased to support this exciting new resource”. The people lending their support to this project reads like a ‘whose who’ list of top class healthcare professionals. It is a welcome addition to the sector.
Health News Ireland looks at the work of Irish therapist Martin Healy and, in particular, at his Food Intolerance test. Katie Belle reports.
An innovative Irish company has just made a major contribution to the area of hand hygiene. It could prove a life-saver. Thomas Wilson has the story… THE issue of hand hygiene is a major one in healthcare circles. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), out of every 100 hospitalised patients, at least seven will acquire healthcare-associated infections. And some of these will be spread through hands that have not been properly disinfected. Something needs to be done fast to stop the spread; and that’s where an innovative Irish company comes into play. Sure Wash is a spin-off research company that was born in Trinity College, Dublin. And they have developed a unique product that meets the WHO’s standards for training healthcare professionals to wash their hands effectively. It may sound like a simple thing; but, in practice, it requires a great deal of care and attention to detail. Sure Wash makes hand hygiene training and compliance much less labour intensive by combining an e-learning system with patented video measurement technology. It can be used in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, as well as in the workplace or universities. A new WHO survey – of more than 2,000 healthcare facilities in 69 countries – found that at least 35% of them were inadequate when it came to basic hand hygiene. Improvements in areas such as monitoring of hand hygiene practices and establishing optimal hand hygiene behaviour within a strong patient safety culture have been called for. Saves Lives “The Sure Wash system saves times by providing e-learning on the wards, saves money by reducing the labour needed to train and audit hand hygiene compliance and saves lives by reducing infection rates,” says Sean Bay, CEO of Sure Wash. Developed over five years in Trinity College, Sure Wash was trialled in Beaumont Hospital and by the UK Department of Health. Over the course of the trial, compliance with the technique increased by more than 700%. Ann Higgins is the Infection Prevention and Control Manager at the Mater Private Hospital. She’s a fan of the new system: “Hand hygiene is crucial to infection control and we have a dedicated training programme which is mandatory for all staff members and which helps us to achieve the highest standards of care for our patients. “The Sure Wash system allows staff to practice their hand-washing technique using video camera technology. The technology compares a staff member’s hand-washing technique with those recommended by the WHO, the Infection Prevention Society and the Health Information and Quality Authority.” Many of the germs causing infection are transferred by hands when healthcare providers or visitors are touching the patient while providing assistance. Using proper hand hygiene to keep hands clean is critical to reducing the risk of infection in patients. The most common infections are urinary tract and surgical site infections, pneumonia and infections of the bloodstream.