Almost five years on from their bombshell announcement to close Abbeyleix Hospital and on the eve of a general election, the HSE have done a u-turn and decided to keep the hospital open as a step up/step down care unit.
The HSE have said they plan to develop an “Intermediate Care Service which would transfer Abbeyleix Community Unit into a step down and step up care facility.”
In a statement released last week, the HSE said that this new service model would “facilitate earlier discharges from the acute hospital and also prevent acute hospital admissions from the community.”
“The model being proposed by the HSE focuses on the needs of the area by providing the right care, at the right time, in the right place, by the right person and which enhances the patient’s experience,” the HSE said.
The key objective of the new service would be to prevent admission to acute hospitals, facilitate home discharge and return to independent living following a period of acute care.
In order to achieve this, the hospital will provide a range of new services including: Convalescence Care, Transitional Care for people who are waiting on a suitable nursing home placement, Respite Care , Palliative Care, establishment of a warfarin clinic, Crisis Management placements while more Long Term Care Plans are being put in place e.g. elder abuse cases ,emergency re-housing secondary to flooding, fire damage etc
The HSE also envisage that administration of IV antibiotics on a day case/out patient basis could be provded at the hospital, but ultimately could service patients who would otherwise require an acute hospital admission e.g. patients with cellulitis etc. But this proposal would require some up skilling of the staff.
However, the no plan for long-term care and the HSE expect that the longest any patient will stay in Abbeyleix will be 2-3 weeks.
No extra staff will be hired, as the HSE claim that the present staffing levels are adequate to carry current workload in residential, respite and Day Services.
Referrals to the hospital can be made by Portlaoise and Tullamore Hospitals, GPs, Primary Care Teams, Palliative Care Teams, Public health nurses, Day Care Centres, Community Mental Health Nurses and Psychiatry of Later Life (POLL).
The HSE said they are currently in discussion with HSE National Estates and HIQA on precise planning regarding the recent capital announcement as regards the Mountmellick proposal.
“When this is complete, communication will occur with staff and families of all three locations – Mountmellick, Abbeyleix and Shaen and there will be no change in the current status quo or services provided until conclusion of these discussions,” they said.