St Brigid's Hospital in Carrick-on-Suir
A senior HSE official says the current upsurge in Covid-19 cases means there are no plans in the “short term” to reopen St Brigid's Hospital in Carrick-on-Suir as a community hospital providing convalescent, respite and palliative care beds.
Barbara Murphy, the HSE's Head of Older People Services, gave this response to Independent Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath on Monday. St Brigid's Hospital was redesignated as a Covid-19 step-down care unit in April but closed shortly after providing care for a small number of Covid-19 patients as there were no more in the region requiring convalescence care.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly reconfirmed to Fianna Fail TD Jackie Cahill and Cllr Kieran Bourke last week that St Brigid's will reopen as a community hospital but he could not give a definitive date when that will happen due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ms Murphy told Deputy McGrath that the current upsurge in reported cases of Covid-19 requires the HSE and South East Community Healthcare to be fully prepared for increased activity and demand.
“In such instances, during the ongoing Covid-19 public health emergency, there are no plans in the short term to resume St. Brigid’s customary usage for convalescent, respite and palliative care beds,” she said.
In light of her response, Deputy McGrath called on the Minister for Health to immediately clarify the plans for reopening St. Brigid’s Hospital and requested the Minister to give an indicative date for the resumption of normal services at St Brigid's.
“St. Brigid's has been lying idle for months now and we have all been seeking answers about it’s future and when services might resume here. We have been given assurance after assurance that St. Brigid’s will re-open but it is very worrying that the HSE through the South East Community Healthcare has confirmed that it is still not in a position to provide a date as to when services will resume,” he said.
“The staff, patients and elderly citizens who use the services of St. Brigid’s and the people of Carrick on Suir deserve greater clarity than this. They have worked hard to provide a top-class facility and the people of Carrick and surrounding areas have fundraised for the provision of hospice beds. It is deeply frustrating and worrying that these important beds remain closed with no reopening date in sight. My colleagues and I have received assurances but the information that we are receiving from the HSE is not living up to those assurances.
It has got to the point where we need some sort of indication; we cannot continue to have a situation where we are told that it is not possible to provide a date as to when the services will resume.
“We need clarity on what is preventing the re-opening; when will staff be returned and at what point do they intend to re-open the hospital and resume services. It is simply not acceptable any longer for the HSE to just continue to say there are no plans in the short term. They need to start working on plans and communicate these plans to the community.” Continued McGrath
“With just 5 cases of Covid-19 in Tipperary in the last two months, at what point will they decide that there is greater demand for convalescent, respite and palliative care than there is for St. Brigid's to lie idle and wait to be used as a step down Covid-19 facility should the need eventually arise?
“We need to get back to treating all other patients and illnesses that seem to have been forgotten about during Covid.” concluded Deputy McGrath.