A new Rheumatology Day Unit has been officially opened today at the Southern General Hospital.
Funded in part by £15,000 worth of donations from former patients and friends, the facility was officially opened by Wendy Alexander MSP. The Unit will allow increasing numbers of patients to be treated without having the need for an in-patient stay. A large number of those who will use the Unit are expected to be younger arthritis patients.
Rheumatology Consultant Dr Susan Fraser stressed the importance of being able to treat patients with the minimum of impact on their lives: "We are absolutely delighted that the Day Unit is opening its doors today. Being able to treat patients without having to keep them in overnight is an enormous boost, especially so for those of our patients who are younger and working and bringing up families.
"They can receive the best possible care and be back at home or at work very quickly. We've worked very hard with patients' groups, charities and other experts to make sure that the new Day Unit is comfortable and homely, and I think that's going to make a big difference. Clinically, of course, being able to treat some people on an out-patient basis means the care on our wards can be concentrated for those who need it most."
It is expected that more than half of all the patients who will use the new Day Unit will be under the age of 50. Despite the perception that arthritis is an older people's disease, many sufferers are actually younger people who're working and taking care of families. It is hoped that allowing treatment to be integrated into their daily lives, rather than imposing an in-patient stay, should improve their quality of life enormously.
At this afternoon's opening ceremony, Paisley North MSP Wendy Alexander said: "The new Rheumatology Day Unit will make a real difference in the lives of hundreds of people, who I hope will now find living with this painful condition that much easier. Hundreds of sufferers will now be able to have the best of treatment without having to stay in hospital. That in turn means they can hold down jobs and bring up families.
"It's been a real team effort to make this vision a reality and I think it's a fantastic example of what can happen when people pull together."
A large amount of the money raised by donations came from a bequest made in the will of Kathleen Donaldson, a former patient. Attending today, her nephew Robert Bruce hoped her example would encourage others to make a similar bequest: "I can't tell you how glad we are that the new Unit is coming to fruition today, and how proud we are that my aunt, who suffered greatly from arthritis and had been an out-patient here, could make such a difference.
"As a family, we know the quality of care at the Southern General is excellent, and we hope very much that the new Unit will help make it even better. It actually feels very unlike a hospital in some ways, and I think that's a major achievement. As I say, we're extremely pleased my aunt has been able to make her contribution towards making that vision a reality, and I hope her example encourages others."
The development of the Unit was heavily influenced by the views of patients and charities. The design has been deliberately aimed at ensuring a non-institutional atmosphere, and the creation of the Unit has featured the input of Art in Hospitals experts.