The Abbeyleix Hospital Action Committee say they have had the strongest indication yet that the Community Nursing Home can be saved, following a meeting with the Minister of State in the Department of Health.
In similar fashion to the Minister for Health, Minister Kathleen Lynch’s visit to the hospital was shrouded in secrecy, with no notification to the hospital or local action committee.
“We got no notification of her visit, but we did get to meet with her,” Gary O’Keeffe, PRO explained.
“It was a frank but positive meeting. The Minister said she was highly impressed with what she saw in the hospital and it was a true example of what the hospital is like on any day of the week.
“She said the future of the hospital was in being a mix of services. This was the strongest indication that we are a moving in a positive way.”
Mr O’Keeffe continued: “She told us our group was unique and said that we were being heard. She asked about the commitment of the community to raising funds for the hospital in the future and we told her this wouldn’t be a problem. This will be an important factor in the final decision on the hospital’s future.”
The action committee’s proposal to keep Abbeyleix open involves the hospital catering for a mix of services including long stay beds, respite care, two streams of rehabilitation for people who have suffered from strokes that have a longer recovery period but also short term rehab such as hip replacements.
The rehabilitation is important as this would make the hospital viable in the long term.”
“We were happy after the meeting, but we are convinced that the battle is not over,” Mr O’Keeffe said.
Minister Lynch who met with Mr O’Keeffe, Brian Maher, the chairperson of the committee and local GP, Dr Madden revealed that it had been her Department who had caused the delay in the start of the consultation process.
“The Minister also gave us an explanation as to the hold up on the start of the consultation process. She said her Department had sent it back to the HSE to be re-written. The Minister said she wanted the consultation process to be more open and robust, which we would welcome.
She said she expected it to start in the next two weeks.”
Following the visit, Senator Whelan said the Minister chatted openly with residents to hear their concerns first hand and also discussed matters with the Matron Mary Lalor before having an impormptu meeting with local GP Dr John Madden and members of the Hospital Action Committee, who arrived and were heartened by her detailed knowledge of their issues and her absolute commitment to the consultation process.
“Afterwards, the Minister contacted me and spoke in glowing terms about how impressed she was with the level of care; the happy content mood and atmosphere throughout the hospital and the levels of hygiene and immaculate conditions of the hospital, which had not been forewarned of her arrival,” Senator Whelan said.
“She was especially complimentary of the role of the Matron, Mary Lalor who facilitated her tour of the hospital.
The Senator said that Minister Lynch had confirmed to him that she will be taking up the invitation of the Shaen Hospital Committee to visit them too in the very near future.
Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan said he was delighted that Minister Lynch visited Abbeyleix Hosptial.
“It afforded the Minister an opportunity to witness first-hand the high degree of care and attention that takes place there.
“Now that both Minister Reilly and Minister Lynch, on behalf of the Government, have visited the facility I will continue to make a strong case for a satisfactory resolution,” he said.