Darragh Stakelum who has been ready to leave CUH for the last fourteen weeks but cannot get funding for a place in Mooncoin
The Health Service Executive has come in for scathing criticism from Fianna Fail Deputy Jackie Cahill and from the family of Thurles man Darragh Stakelum who is waiting to be discharged from Cork University Hospital for the last sixteen weeks, but cannot be due to a lack of funding for his ongoing rehabilitation in another facility.
Darragh, who is 29 years of age, has been in CUH since December having been diagnosed with a brain tumour - he is completely blind having lost his sight three years ago. And, following extensive treatment in CUH which ended sixteen weeks ago, he was ready to move on to an acute brain injury residential rehabilitation centre in Mooncoin, County Waterford.
However, despite it having cost the HSE €135,000 over those sixteen weeks to keep Darragh in Cork, the organisation will not pay the €153,000 annual sum to have him continue his rehab in Mooncoin. So, Darragh continues to remain in Cork at a cost of €1,200 per day instead.
“I have never come across a situation as ridiculous as this one. Darragh needs to leave Cork at this stage because he has to get his rehab going in order to help him, but the HSE situation is just absolutely mind-bogglingly crazy. It makes no sense whatsoever, either from a financial viewpoint or from the viewpoint of aiding Darraghs recovery,” Deputy Cahill told The Tipperary Star this week.
Darragh's family are now at their wits end and have decided to go public to try and highlight their plight. Already, many groups and organisations have been helping to raise funds for the Darragh Stakelum Fund in a bid to help out, but the family feel that the absolutely crazy scenario within the HSE needs to be highlighted.
The €1.5 million allocated at the beginning of the year to address cases where people with disabilities would be moved out of acute care to reheab care, has been exhausted for some months and the HSE simply will not provide a supplementary budget, despite interventions at the very highest level.
Deputy Cahill is in direct contact with Health Minister Simon Harris as well as with the head official in the HSE, Bernard Gloster and has been impressing upon them, the necessity of getting Darragh into rehab and out of an acute bed.
Breda Stakelum said: “We have tried everything and we are running into a brick wall. We can see Darragh slipping back before our eyes and it is heartbreaking. To get this news from Jackie that the HSE will not be providing more funds for rehab is just so soul destroying- we have no more tears left to cry at this stage. There were 51 people lying on trolleys in CUH on Monday and yet Darragh is there taking up a bed which he does not need. But, he has to stay there because the HSE won't pay for his rehab. It is just so crazy, you wouldn't beleive it,” said Breda who is constantly on the road to Cork with her husband Jim, Darragh's brother Cathal, and his sister Aislinn to visit him and look after him alongside Darragh's partner Orla.
Despite the latest blow in terms of his possibility of moving to rehab soon, Darraghs spirits remain high and he was boosted on Friday last when the latest MRI turned out to be clear - a huge relfief for his family and all his friends. But, Darragh needs to move on now and the feeling is that the man who was due to represent his country in the world blind golf championships in Rome, is now being abandoned by that same country, through the actions of the HSE - in 2017, following intense training and with the assistance of his caddy Gerry McCormack, he became the first Tipperary person to win the Irish open blind golf tournament.
Educated in Thurles CBS and WIT Waterford, Darragh started his working life in Stakelums Hardware and later Aldi Thurles. A keen sports enthusiast from a young age winning many county finals with his clubs Durlas OG and Thurles Sarsfields, Darragh is a grandnephew of Pat Stakelum, 1949 Tipperary All-Ireland captain and first cousin to Declan Hannon captain of Limerick 2018 All Ireland winning team.
“Darragh's story shows how unfit for purpose the HSE is and how out of sync the system is. Darragh has got more hard knocks in the last few years than any man could take and this decision by the HSE not to provide a supplementary budget is not just the latest one, but a really devastating one. €8,400 per week is being squandered by keeping him in a bed which he does not need, all because there is no allocation for a rehab bed for the forseeable future- the place is there for him in Mooncoin but the funding is not. I'm working on this a long time and I cannot tell you how frustrating and ridiculuous this is,” Deputy Cahill said.
The family is now hoping that by going public, the HSE will see sense.