The HSE plans to open the nursing unit in Ballinamore and transfer patients from St Patrick’s Hospital in an effort to address HIQA concerns about accommodation and privacy.
The HSE’s Chief Officer for the North-West John Hayes told the Health Forum and Oireachtas members that the design and layout of St Patrick’s which was built as an 1840s workhouse “is not suitable for the provision of care into the future.” Pending the construction of a purpose designed facility in Carrick, the HSE will open the newly built nursing unit in Ballinamore before the end of this year.
The HSE said they have already applied to HIQA to register the new nursing unit and the process of recruiting staff is underway. The transfer of residents from St Patrick’s to Ballinamore will allow bed numbers in St Patrick’s to reduce providing more space and privacy to residents, which Mr Hayes said “is necessary to ensure continued registration of the hospital with HIQA who have been critical about lack of privacy.”
Mr Hayes confirmed that the HSE had advised HIQA of these proposals and are awaiting a formal response in relation to re-registration which was due in June. It is understood planning for a 90 bed nursing unit on a green field site at the back of St Patricks’s Hospital has been submitted.
Deputy Frank Feighan said the news for Ballinamore is “good news from a health provision perspective but will also be a great jobs boost for the area. Of course, there will also be a spin off too for local business.” The sod was turned on the Ballinamore facility in July 2013. Cllr Martin Kenny and Cllr Caillian Ellis welcomed the new activity and employment for Ballinamore Community Hospital. Former councillor Gordon Hughes said he campaigned for a nursing home in Ballinamore for 11 years and the news is “long over due.”
There have been concerns voiced about this move for Carrick-on-Shannon. St Patrick’s Hospital is registered for 85 beds, a reduction of 20 patients has been called a “downgrade of services.” Speaking at Monday’s meeting of Carrick Municipal District, Cllr Enda Stenson said he is disappointed that everyone seemed to be happy with moving patients and staff to the detriment of St. Patrick’s Hospital. He welcomed the opening of the Ballinamore Nursing Unit, but said it should have been done without taking patients and staff from St. Patrick’s.
Cllr Seadhna Logan described it as “The beginning of the end for St Patrick’s.” Cllr Des Guckian, who initially stated the matter wasn’t on the agenda of the meeting, went on to say that this situation is caused by the failure of the HSE and the Department of Health to provide adequate monies for the ongoing care of the elderly in this county. Cllr Sean McGowan welcomed the news regarding Ballinamore but said moving staff is wrong.
Cllr Finola Armstrong-McGuire said she attended the meeting with the HSE and this outcome was a compromise and the only way HIQA would accept St. Patrick’s to get certification. She said they are waiting on money for the 90-bed unit in Carrick. Cllr Logan replied, “It’s on the books for five years now, it’s only aspirational.”