The refusal of permission to visit the County Hospital, Portlaoise, outside visiting hours to a councillor and hospital visiting committee member was condemned at Monday’s council meeting.
The county manager, Mr E.M. Murray said councillors and committee members were entitled to visit the hospital at any time provided they made an application first to the matron.
In reply to a motion tabled by Mr H. Byrne, the county secretary (Mr E. J. Fennell) said that in 1958 visiting hours were extended, giving an hour from 8 to 9pm each night, in addition to the existing times of 12 to 2pm on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, Patients on the danger list could have visitors at any time excepting during meal hours and when treatment was being given.
Mr Byrne said on Saturday week he called at the hospital at 12.25pm to visit a friend who was being removed to Peamount on the following Monday morning. As a result of a recent “chat” he had with the county manager, he decided to see the matron first.
“I did not get that far,” Mr Byrne continued. “A man on the door would not allow me in. He said he had strict instructions not to let anyone in, since Cllr P. Delaney had gone into the hospital without permission on the previous night.”
Mr Byrne said he insisted on seeing the matron, who told him that under no circumstances could he visit the patient. If he would not leave, the Guards would be called.
“I told her were she not a member of a religious order, I would visit the man whether she liked it or not,” he added.
Continuing, Mr Byrne said it was appalling if a member of a local authority and of the hospital visiting committee was refused admission. He had played a big part in seeing that nothing was spared in the provision for the hospital or its maintenance.
“I did feel that I should be received in a more courteous manner.”
Mr Byrne said that sometime later, he met Senator J.A. Quigley at a funeral leaving the hospital. Senator Quigley told him he was going to visit a patient while waiting.
“I told him what happened to me,” Mr Byrne said, “to spare him the horror of being refused admission. No one could say that either Byrne or Quigley were going to kick round everything in the hospital.”
Mr Byrne went on to say that since then he had gone out of his way to call at hospitals outside the county at times other than visiting hours. He was admitted and brought through Kilcreen Hospital, Naas County Hospital, and St Vincent’s Hospital.
“It is an appalling state and a slap in the face to see members of the county council and the visiting committee refused admission to their own institution,” he said, adding that a little more discretion could be used.