Elderly women in St Vincent’s hospital Mountmellick have been confined upstairs for the past month, due to a broken lift.
Residents of women’s wards on the first floor who need to use a wheelchair, have been unable to leave to visit their families, the hospital chapel or gardens, since before the July heatwave.
A concerned visitor reported seeing one family carring a wheelchair down the stairs, supporting their relative as she attempted to climb down.
Staff are reported to be doing their best to cope with the problem, bringing meals upstairs, and activities such as the weekly music sessions.
Last week the HSE confirmed the lift was out of order.
“Its re-operation is dependent on a specific part from the manufacturer which is being sourced. Ongoing communication is underway with the manufacturer to resolve this situation. The issue is being managed and additional activities for residents have been organised on the top floor.
“Management and staff are doing everything within their powers to alleviate the impact on residents and staff,” a spokesperson said.
The HSE say staff are trained in the case of an emergency to evacuate the patients.
“In the event of an emergency it is policy that the lift is not used. For patient transport in such incidents the ambulance service use a transport evacuation chair. Key staff are trained to use padded ski sheets as part of their emergency evacuation training,” the HSE said.
Chairperson of Mountmellick Hospital Support Group is Robert O’Mara.
“The patients haven’t been affected, the staff have done great work, and the matter is being dealth with. It’s the first time the lift has broken, I am sure it will be fixed in the next week or so, it’s just one of those things,” he said.