The future of St Brigid’s Hospital in Shaen looks increasingly bleak, with the health minister including it with other buildings which are “past their sell-by date.”
Speaking in Mullingar at the opening of a state of the art 90-bed service for older people, Dr James Reilly said.
“Most people who’ve looked at Shaen tell me it certainly has [passed its sell-by date].”
However Joe Ruane, Midlands area manager for the HSE insists that no decision has been made, and urged people to lodge written submissions as part of the public consultation about the hospital, by this Friday’s closing date July 20.
They were both at the opening of the Cluan Lir Care Centre, which has 80% single bed occupancy, and offers a variety of therapies and safe spaces for service users.
It replaces the old St. Mary’s Community Nursing Unit and Psychiatry for Late Life services on the St. Loman’s campus in Mullingar.
When the Minister was asked if he plans to visit Shaen, he gave a lengthy response.
“This is the area more concerned with Kathleen Lynch. I have been to Abbeyleix, however, I would like to think I would get to Shaen at some stage. The reality is we cannot preserve all our community nursing units - the buildings, the nature of them, the upkeep costs of them.
“As I mentioned here today this (Cluain Lir) is a modern facility with an energy plant room, you can feel the heat in the building, it’s very efficient, the older buildings clearly aren’t. Some of them were converted from other purposes to actually serve the purposes they serve now and they’re well past their sell-by date.
“You have to make some hard decisions around the cost of care and you want to treat as many people as you can and afford as many people care as you can. And you can’t do that if you have old buildings that are inefficient and don’t allow for that model of care.”
Asked if he was saying Shaen is past its sell-by date, he said:
“I think most people who’ve looked at Shaen tell me it certainly has, but I’ll certainly visit and see”
He said he didn’t want “a big hullaballoo” when he goes and would rather “to see these things quietly myself and as I did with Abbeyleix, I’ll do the same there.”
However, Joe Ruane said he didn’t accept that the minister’s words indicate that Shaen will close.
“I didn’t take that at all. The consultation for the older person’s services and in particular Shaen and Abbeyleix is currently underway. The deadline for written submissions is this Friday and I would encourage any individuals who wish to submit to please do so to firstname.lastname@example.org,” he said.
When asked about the Minister’s indication that Shaen is “past its sell-by date” he insisted that “no decision has been made.”
Meanwhile, the Abbeyleix Hospital action group said it has made “a ground breaking submission” which they hope will break the deadlock on the hospital by meeting both HSE and community objectives.
The submission includes: a new proposed clinical model, a new community backed alterations to the unit which the group say will provide the HSE with a more cost effective and sustainable way to run the hospital.