The Minister of Health, James Reilly paid a secret, unannounced, visit to Shaen Hospital, last Friday.
The patients of Shaen are eagerly awaiting the Minister decision on the future of the hospital, whose closure was announced over a year ago.
Chairperson of the Shaen Action Committee, Paddy Buggy, confirmed that the Minister paid a flying visit to the hospital.
“He met with the matron, Mary Fearns, the staff and anybody who was visiting at the time.
“I was disappointed not to be there, but nothing I could say to the Minister would make a difference, Shaen sells itself and he has all the reports and all the facts,” Mr Buggy said.
He continued: “I think it’s very positive that Minister Reilly came down and I believe he was impressed with the building and the level of care.”
The Action Committee chairperson said he was not optimisitc about the Minister’s decision.
“We are very hopeful now, I would have felt worse if he had not visited.”
Deputy Charlie Flanagan said he had met with the Minister after he visited Shaen.
“He was very impressed with the Shaen, the staff and their work ethic.”
The Fine Gael TD said a complex staffing issue, for which budgets had not yet been signed off on had held up the decision on the future of the two Community Nursing Units.
“This has taken longer than anticipated and I know people have become frustrated. The Department of Health are working hard on it and a decision will be made shortly.”
Labour Senator, John Whelan said he was glad the Minister had taken the time to inform himself of the excellent care provided to the high dependency patients in Shaen.
“I hope the Ministers visit signals that he is close to finally making an announcement. This decision is well overdue and the continuing uncertainty undermines both Shaen and Abbeyleix.”
The Minister for Health was in Brussels on Monday and unavailable for comment.