Short stay inpatient care 'discontinued' at St Brigid's District Hospital

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Tipperary TD appeals to HSE chief to reopen palliative care beds at Carrick-on-Suir hospital 

St Brigid's Hospital in Carrick-on-Suir

The HSE is to develop a new Community Healthcare Centre for chronic disease management (specialising in diabetes supports), based at the St Brigid's Hospital building in Carrick-on-Suir, Tipperary.

The facility, which is provided for in the 2021 roll out of the national chronic disease management programme, will be operated by South East Community Healthcare (SECH) and will serve the south Tipperary area.

As part of the new development, short stay inpatient care is being "discontinued" at the St Brigid’s District Hospital building.

In March of this year, as part of the Covid-19 pandemic public health emergency, the 14 bed St Brigid’s Hospital was re-designated as a “step down” Covid-19 care facility to serve the south Tipperary area.

Alternative arrangements have been made for patients requiring inpatient convalescent, respite and palliative care to be accommodated elsewhere in the HSE’s community healthcare services in the south Tipperary area.

In parallel, there has been a requirement for staff elsewhere in community healthcare services and admissions to St Brigid’s were suspended since April.

In the meantime, the demand for such Covid-19 care step down beds at St Brigid’s reduced and whilst it has remained on standby for this use if required, it has not re-opened in the meantime. 

SECH has advised staff previously attached to St Brigid’s that its role as a short stay inpatient care facility is being discontinued.

SECH took this decision in light of current infection prevention and control best practice and in the context of the layout of the St Brigid’s premises – which features narrow hallways, inadequate space and facilities available in two wards of five beds each.

In a statement, the HSE said: "In line with the Government’s Sláintecare reform strategy, the HSE is in the process of redesigning acute hospital care pathways through the development of enhanced community care services. To improve access, Community Health Networks (CHNs) will be established across the South East, served by specialist integrated Chronic Disease Management Teams (CDMTs).

"Staff (including an Assistant Director of Public Health Nursing) for the Community Healthcare Network focused on the Clogheen-Cahir-Clonmel and Carrick-on-Suir area (CHN 5) will be based at St Brigid’s. In addition, the diabetes specialists of CDMTs (including a dietician and clinical nurse specialist for diabetes) will join them in the new centre."

The HSE says a range of other healthcare services will continue to be provided in and from the Primary Care Centre (also located onsite at the HSE’s complex on the Pill Road in the town), to serve local communities in Carrick-on-Suir and surrounding villages and parishes in counties Tipperary, Kilkenny and Waterford.

Next steps in Carrick-on-Suir

It is anticipated that by the middle of 2021, up to seven staff will be working from and seeing clients in St Brigid’s, in clinical support work that will ensure the provision of specialist care in the community.

Confirming plans in relation to Carrick-on-Suir, the Chief Officer of South East Community Healthcare, Kate Killeen White, said: "I want to assure the people of Carrick-on-Suir and surrounding areas that there is provision locally for convalescent, respite and palliative care bed provision in the south Tipperary area."

She added: "I also want to put on record our appreciation of the commitment given by the excellent team of staff associated with St Brigid's in taking up redeployment in Covid-19 related roles in community healthcare services over the last eight months and we will continue to liaise with them.

“There is a long history of healthcare associated with the St Brigid’s building in Carrick-on-Suir. The development of the Community Healthcare Centre is a new chapter.

"Along with the state of the art Primary Care Centre (completed in 2018) also on site, it sees the HSE continuing to deliver such services as the Area Medical Officer, Dental, Dietetics, Mental Health, Physiotherapy, Public Health Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech and Language Therapy (many of them tied with the Primary Care Teams working locally with GPs). Our staff, including Home Support Services, will also continue to support people living in the town and at their homes in surrounding areas."