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06 Jul 2022

Laois Council gives green light to 'important' new Covid unit at Portlaoise hospital

Respiratory Unit on the way as is paediatric expansion also going ahead

Doctors in Laois set out their vision for the future of the Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise

Laois County Council has given the green light to the construction of a new extension at Portlaoise hospital part of which will help staff provide enhanced care to patients with respiratory illnesses and other conditions.

The council has also given the green light to other work on the building and surrounds including the extension of the paediatric unit at the Laois hospital.

The local authority granted planning permission on January 11 to the HSE to build a new two and three storey extension to the east of the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise immediately beside the Emergency Department (A&E / ED). 

The HSE winter plan published in early 2021 said the budget for the project would run to €5 million.

In its application the council said the development would include new Respiratory Assessment Unit and ancillary accomodation at ground floor level. The new unit will be connected via covered link to the to the Emergency Department.

The HSE says the new unit has been designed to provide additional clinical capacity in particular to enhance the hospital's Covid-19 management procedures. 

"The entire ground floor has been designed so that it can separate and treat Emergency Department patients with Covid from the existing Emergency Department," said.

The HSE stressed the importance of this to services provided at the facility in its application.

"The hospital have emphasised that this project is an important infrastructural project in terms of both ongoing Covid managment and its expansion of essential clinical facilities at the hospital," said the application.

The goahead had also been given to an extension to the existing Pediatric Unit, together with ancillary accommodation at first floor level.

The proposed works also include separate ground and first floor links from the proposed new development to the existing hospital, as well as the construction of a semi-covered link walkway between the proposed new development and the existing hospital.

Two existing temporary single storey prefabricated structures currently used as Covid-19 testing facilities will be moved from the general location of the proposed works to a new location to the north of the hospital, together with a dedicated ambulance set-down area immediately adjacent to the pre-fabricated structures.

The proposed works also include the relocation of an existing ambulance set-down area to a new location adjacent to the north west of the hospital.

The council has also sanctioned new parking area to the west side of Block Road accessed off an existing access road, to be used temporarily as construction personnel parking during the proposed works.

The works here also involves the widening of the existing access road and the provision of a pedestrian crossing across Block road linking this parking area to the main hospital campus.

The development also include all siteworks associated with the proposed works. 

The HSE first flagged the expanded Respiratory Unit work in its 2021 plan for the hospital. It was due to be operational last year. 

The development is the latest in a list of developments at the hospital which ranged from an overhaul of the lab facilities, upgrade of administration accommodation. Increased car parking is also planned.

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