Fears over future of hospital which serves Waterford’s elderly raised in Dáil
The growing fears over the future of a hospital with an excellent reputation in the care of Waterford’s elderly, which was transformed into a convalescence facility for those affected but Covid-19 but has since been shut down, were raised in the Dáil yesterday.
St Brigid’s Hospital in Carrick-on-Suir has for many years been used as respite care facility for the over 65s of East Waterford, South Tipperary and South Kilkenny, and also as a step-down facility for patients after major surgery.
Earlier this year the decision was taken by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to turn the hospital, which can cater for more than 20 patients, into a stepdown facility for those recovering from acute Coronavirus. Alternative beds were found for the patients that were in St Brigid’s at that time, and at the beginning of April the hospital was ready for Covid-19 patients specifically.
Since then, few patients were admitted leading to the hospital’s closure, and now reports have emerged of beds being moved out of the hospital transferred to other locations.
Staff at the hospital have raised their concerns over its future and led many politicians, such as Tipperary councillors David Dunne (SF) and Kieran Bourke (FF), as well as Tipperary Sinn Fein TD, Martin Browne, to seek answers from the HSE.
Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Tipperary’s Fianna Fáil TD, Jackie Cahill raised the issue and has requested answers from the Health Minister Simon Harris and the HSE.
“Minister,” Deputy Cahill said, “would you ask the HSE that there is no threat to the future of St Brigid’s and when the Covid-19 crisis has ended it will return fully to its previous service within the community?
“In the current crisis, it was appointed as a stepdown facility for Covid-19 patients who had left acute care. We were informed two weeks ago that the demand for such Covid-19 beds in St Brigid’s Hospital had reduced and the hospital temporarily suspended and stepdown Covid-19 care would resume as required.
“It is now believed that beds are being physically removed from St Brigid’s,” Deputy Cahill said.
In response to Deputy Cahill’s question, Health Minister Simon Harris said he will be urgently pressing the HSE on this matter: “I will certainly take your concerns directly to the HSE in relation to seeking clarity on its intended use and restoration post-pandemic, and will revert directly to you on that.”