News nr. 29 | September/October 2012
News Report / Profile
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Ward Pulmonology Unit 1 – Santa Maria Hospital, Northern Lisbon Hospital Centre

Dra. Isabel Correia e Alda Manique 
Pulmonology Unit 1 – Santa Maria Hospital, Northern Lisbon Hospital Centre
Director: Professor Doutor António Bugalho de Almeida 

The Pulmonology Ward of the Pulmonology Unit I of the Northern Lisbon Hospital Centre (CHLN) was set up with the creation of the Unit in 1954, and underwent several changes over the years. In the beginning it had 90 beds, and subsequently this number was reduced to 72 so that part of the area could be assigned to the nurses’ (nuns) accommodation, as they started living in the unit. These 72 beds occupied the entire 9th floor. At the both ends of the ward were 18 beds for male patients and 18 beds for female patients. The central area had 36 beds for patients suffering from tuberculosis. The solariums, rest rooms and treatment rooms stood next to the beds of the tuberculosis patients.

From 1967, the nurses were laywomen and ceased to reside in the hospital. In 1970, part of the ward moved to the 8th floor – 24 beds – while 24 beds remained in the 9th floor. The advancement of medicine, changing concepts and new ways to deal with patients led to several changes aimed at modernizing the unit, and new therapeutic and diagnosis areas were set up.

Currently, the ward continues to be located on the 8th and 9th floors, admitting, respectively, male and female patients, acting as a core pillar for providing care and for teaching and research.

Most inpatients come from the Central Emergency Unit of HSM, from the Pulmonology Clinic, the Respiratory Endoscopic Techniques Units, the Pulmonology Oncology and Respiratory Intensive Care, as well as from other wards of clinics from HSM or other hospitals. Access to the Unit is quite broad, and the care of evacuated patients from Portuguese-speaking African countries is a particularly important activity, in addition to the care provided to foreigners residing in the country, on holiday in Portugal or just passing through the country.

The characteristics of the pathologies of hospitalised patients have changed over the years. When the unit was set up on the 9th floor, the main disease was tuberculosis, requiring long stays, often lasting several years. The location of the ward on the 9th floor, which had a balcony that acted as a solarium for patients with tuberculosis, has currently lost its former function as an integral part of the usable space of the ward and as means of providing care.

Increasing smoking habits in the last decades of the 20th century by both men and women has been crucial for the gradual rise in the number of patients with lung cancer and COPD admitted to the Pulmonology ward. On the other hand, the number of patients admitted due to tuberculosis has been decreasing steadily, particularly since the beginning of the 21st century.

Due to the opportunities for diagnosis and therapeutic research the Pulmonology Unit offers, the cases which are difficult to diagnose or treat are referenced and admitted to the ward, representing a challenge for physicians and residents still undergoing training. Often, the high number of patients with lung cancer at an advanced stage allows team members to develop their medical and human skills to offer relief to the physical and psychological suffering of patients at end of life.

It must be stressed that the team of the Pulmonology ward treats and diagnose the several diseases that comprise the specialty, including Internal Medicine pathologies.

The ward plays a particularly important role in the education of medical students, specialty interns and also interns from other specialities, who are able to develop their autonomy and diagnosis and therapy skills of pulmonology diseases, and others, by experiencing life at the ward and the association of various comorbidities in the same patient, and by discussing clinical situations with the coordinator of the ward on a daily basis, and with the Director of the unit every week.

Over the years, research has also been part of the activities conducted at the ward, mostly carried out by interns with the support of supervisors. They present papers, posters and write articles based on clinical situations that are interesting in terms of diagnosis or therapy, on the role of additional diagnosis tests in specific clinical situations, and on the study of the efficacy and safety of drugs.


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Prof. Doutor J. Fernandes e Fernandes
Editorial Commitee: Prof. Doutor J. Fernandes e Fernandes, Prof. Doutor Alexandre Ribeiro, Prof. Doutor António Vaz Carneiro, Prof. Doutor João Ferreira, Dr. Luis Pereira
Information Officer: Ana Raquel Moreira
Editorial Team: Ana Maria Silva, Ana Raquel Moreira, André Silva, Lara Ponte, Miguel Andrade, Rui Gomes, Sónia Barroso, Susana Henriques, Tânia Simões
Collaboration: Communication and Image Office - Ana Isabel Gonçalves da Silva, Bruno Moura
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