For five years Jillian McNulty has campaigned for a purpose-built treatment facility for those living with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) in Ireland. Last week, that dream became a reality when patients were moved into the new €28 million Nutley Wing at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin.
“I’ve only been involved in campaigning for this for five years, but others with CF have been looking for this facility for decades,” said Jillian (36), speaking to the Leader from her room in the new 34-bed in-patient room facility.
She added: “There was a time when I felt I was banging my head against a brick wall trying to get people to listen, but it all seemed to change in 2010 when Anita Slowey, Keely Flavin and I went on Joe Duffy.”
People started to listen after that. Jillian and her colleagues undertook a public campaign where they made contact with the media and focused upon developing people’s awareness of CF.
“I think people and politicians were ashamed and I think the politicians realised that we were not going away either,” said the determined Longford town lady.
Unfortunately Jillian’s fellow campaigners - Anita (Monaghan) and Keely (Wexford) - passed away prior to seeing the opening of the Nutley Wing.
CF is a life-threatening condition caused by a defective gene that means the body produces abnormally thick and sticky mucus. The fluid builds up in the breathing passages of the lungs and in the pancreas.
People living with CF are particularly susceptible to picking up infections, and as a result staying on wards in public hospitals can adversely affect their quality of life. Ironically, due to infections CF people may need to spend many weeks per year in hospital.
“One minute I’m crying as I think of those that didn’t make it, the other minute I’m laughing because we achieved our dream. None of it feels real,” said Jillian, a daughter of Francis and Finola McNulty, Glack, Longford.
She added: “The Nutley Wing is going to mean a stress-free stay in hospital. We won’t have to fear picking up infections on a general ward. Any small infection can turn into something major and mean a three-week stay in hospital.”
Jillian, who has been intermittently attending St. Vincent’s Hospital for 22 years, continued: “But now life is fantastic. I can open my window and let in the fresh air. I have my own bathroom and treadmill. It’s out of this world.”
In a statement St. Vincent’s Hospital said it anticipated that all areas of the new ward block would be fully open and operational by the end of August. The spokesperson added that the development of the new facility represented a major improvement in the care of CF patients in Ireland.
The seven-story wing contains single inpatient rooms which are state-of-the-art, large and bright. They reduce the cross-infection and have an exercise facility, computer console and TV. There are also ten ensuite single rooms for day care CF patients. The wing will also cater for other patients too (on different wards), including cancer patients and those with suppressed immune systems.