The HSE has confirmed that work is set to be carried out at the Abbeyleix Community Nursing Unit (CNU) which was saved from closure following a public campaign nearly a decade ago.
The HSE said emergency Covid-19 work being carried out at present involves the reconfiguration of the existing accommodation as part of Covid-19 Emergency Planning.
The HSE said the work involves the provision of 27 intermediate care beds as part of Covid-19 emergency planning in line with HSE Covid-19 Intermediate Care facilities, as well as the redesignation of 10 beds by HIQA under the Social Care Service agreed by Covid-19 Area Crisis Management Team to facilitate this project.
The HSE said the works include reinstatement of bed spaces in selected rooms, provision of oxygen throughout the facility, upgrades to shower rooms throughout the facility, kitchenette upgrade, provision of two ensuite bedrooms, reconfiguration works to provide six beds in the existing daycare area. The project includes associated furniture, equipment requirements and associated decorative upgrading throughout.
The designation of these beds for Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise Acute Hospital Service use was agreed by the HSE Area Crisis Management Team
The HSE added a steering committee has been established for the unit in addition to the work being carried out.
“This committee has engaged the services of an architect to develop a Development Control Plan (DCP) to review and establish the potential of Abbeyleix CNU and it’s site. This review was at an early stage prior to the breakout of Covid-19,” said the HSE.
The Abbeyleix facility was saved from closure after the residents and the public joined forces to campaign against shutdown in 2011.
Elderly residents secured a court injunction to stop the HSE from shutting it down. This was backed by a big campaign which included two big marches by the public organised by the Abbeyleix Hospital Action Committee.
The committee has a major expansion plan for the facility which it has presented to the HSE.
Committee Chairman Brian Maher issued a statement welcoming the work being done by the HSE.
“We in Abbeyleix Hospital Action Committee are delighted to see the HSE investing in the expansion of the capacity of Abbeyleix Hospital. We think that this work illustrates what we have always argued that Abbeyleix Hospital has a greater capacity than is utilised.
“We are confident that this work will be supported as always by the community and we welcome what is a shining example of the power of community action in securing an essential facility for the long term,” said the statement.
Laois Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming welcomed the development.
“This additional capacity may be required if the number of patients in Portlaoise and Tullamore hospitals are very high and some patients need to be transferred to another HSE facility during the crisis.
“We all hope that this additional bed capacity will never have to be used during this crisis. The additional works that will be of a permanent benefit to the hospital will further help make the case for a full re-development of the facility in Abbeyleix so that it can be utilised to the maximum benefit for the community both in terms of step-down facility beds from hospitals in the region and to continue to provide respite beds, daycare, rehabilitation, physiotherapy and other therapy treatments.
“Many people have not been able to obtain their normal day visits and respite facilities during this crisis and it is important that these be fully restored as soon as it is safe to do so,” said the TD.