Catherine Foley leading a recent Saturday afternoon hospital bed push protest calling for the reopening of St Brigid's Hospital in Carrick-on-Suir. Picture Anne Marie Magorrian
TD raises public concern over St Brigid's Hospital's continued closure with Health Minister
A Tipperary TD has pressed the Health Minister in the Dáil on why Carrick-on-Suir’s St Brigid’s Hospital remains closed while Wexford and Kilkenny district hospitals, also designated as Covid-19 stepdown units, have reopened.
Independent TD Michael Lowry told Minister Stephen Donnelly the people of Carrick-on-Suir are questioning why two district hospitals in Gorey, county Wexford and Thomastown, county Kilkenny have resumed operations and services to their communities while the same has not happened in their town.
“All three facilities had been designated as Covid-19 stepdown centres, but both Gorey and Thomastown have now reverted to their former operational use, while St Brigid’s remains closed to all services,” he pointed out.
Deputy Lowry called on the Minister to give a time frame for when St Brigid’s will have its Covid-19 stepdown designation removed and will resume its normal “vital” services as a district hospital.
Deputy Lowry said Minister Donnelly referred to South East Community Healthcare (SECH) for an update on the situation with St Brigid’s Hospital.
He received the SECH’s response last Thursday and was told there are no immediate plans to re-open St Brigid’s Hospital due to the pandemic.
The SECH response stated: “St Brigid’s was designated as a Covid-19 step down facility to support flow from the acute hospitals in the region.
“As the demand for Covid-19 step down beds was not required to the level as predicted during the initial Covid-19 pandemic, SECH utilised the staffing resource from St Brigid’s to meet competing demands and priorities in the south Tipperary area.
“These arrangements have been kept under review. There remains a critical requirement for staff elsewhere in community healthcare services at this time.”
The SECH said it appreciated the commitment of the excellent team of staff associated with St Brigid’s in taking up redeployment in Covid-19 related roles in community healthcare services.
“Interim arrangements are currently in place for patients requiring residential convalescent, emergency respite and palliative care to be accommodated elsewhere in the HSE’s community healthcare services in the south Tipperary area.”
The SECH statement concluded: “The current upsurge in reported cases of Covid-19 requires the HSE and SECH to be fully prepared for increased activity and demand.
“With regret, SECH is not in a position to advise as to when services will resume at St Brigid’s as service resumption is dependent on the management of Covid related activity within the region along with the need to be assured that services at St Brigid’s can safely resume in a manner which is compliant with prevailing public health guidance and infection, prevention and control guidance.”
Deputy Lowry said he will monitor the situation and raise the closure of St Brigid’s Hospital again with the Health Minister to seek a timeframe for its reopening.
Weekly Saturday afternoon protests, led by Carrick-on-Suir River Rescue volunteer Catherine Foley, have taken place in Carrick-on-Suir in recent weeks highlighting the need to reopen St Brigid’s Hospital.
Catherine’s first protest was a hospital bed push from South Tipperary General Hospital in Clonmel to St Brigid’s Hospital in October.