it was standing room only in the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel, on Monday night, as upwards of 1,000 people turned out to protest against the closure of Abbeyleix Community Nursing Unit.
Cancelling the presidential inauguration and cutting the so-called ‘pen pushers’ at the top of the HSE were among some of the suggestions on the night to keep Abbeyleix open.
Mary Madden, whose father has resided in the hospital for the last seven years said she had never been so hurt and disgusted at the way the situation had been handled.
“I was never so hurt and disgusted at the way things were done in Laois. I was thrilled my father got into Abbeyleix, I’ve never seen him so happy,” she said.
Mrs Madden complimented the staff who she said had never once rang her seven years to come in and sit with her father.
“The staff in Abbeyleix are out on their own and its disgraceful the way things have happened.”
Mrs Madden pleaded with Fine Gael TD, Charlie Flanagan to keep the hospital open. She asked the politicans to come to Abbeyleix and see the elderly people who were broken hearted.
“I’m sure they have all paid their taxes, can we not look after them in their last years of life,” she said.
Anna Malone spoke of her brother who has been a resident for the last 12 years.
“Michael is not an elderly person. From repeated case studies and meeting with managements over the years, they decided six months ago that there was no other suitable accommodation for Michael,” she said.
She said her brother was very happy in Abbeyleix, which was his home and where he has had the best of care.
“Are you telling me now that you’re condemning Michael to a nursing home, because that’s what the other option is. Abbeyleix has been my brother’s home for the last 12 years. If you don’t reverse this decision, you’re condemning a 45-year-old man to live in a nursing home with people who are in advanced stages of dementia and other disabilities that come with old age, and it’s just not good enough,” she said.
Ann Holland, art teacher in the nursing unit said it was an abuse what the HSE were doing.
“When I went into teach my art class this week I met a very different group of people, than I did last week. It’s a lovely group of people, everyone is very relaxed. This week I encountered severe agitation and extreme disarray,” she said.
The art teacher said the HSE were in breach of standard eight of the HIQA standards. She said what they were doing was causing extreme emotional distress.
“It’s discrimination. It’s elder and psychological abuse. Some of the residents children are over 65 years of age. It’s an abuse.”
Denis Rowan said the hospital had been kept open through poorer times.
“The nuns kept it open in the 1930’s, 1940s and 1950s. It was kept open for the people of Abbeyleix. It’s absolutely unnecessary to close Abbeyleix Hospital, they can get the money from somewhere.
“Talking on behalf of the old people that’s lying in that hospital today, where are they going to go. There’s talk of Shaen being closed and Ballyragget. In the name of God, keep Abbeyleix open for the people, it has been done before,” he said to a rousing round of applause.
Mary White said that after hearing the news last week that the hospital was to close, was like being told that a dear family friend had died.