Cllr Micheál Carrigy, Health Minister Simon Harris, Senator Gabrielle McFadden and Longford-Westmeath TD Peter Burke in the Longford Arms Hotel.
A multi million euro investment in St Joseph’s Care Centre in Longford town by Government was announced on Monday.
Speaking to the Leader at the Longford Arms Hotel, Minister Harris confirmed that the capital funding allocated for major refurbishment works at the centre will be forthcoming.
“We know that this investment is badly required at St Joseph’s; I know that Cllr Peggy Nolan has been advocating for this for a long while and I send her my best wishes as I know that she is unwell today,” he added.
“We spoke to the staff and management at St Joseph’s today and have confirmed to them that phase one will commence in 2018 while phase 2 will begin in 2019 with the aim of having all the works completed by 2021.”
The Government is currently carrying out a national mapping exercise to identify centres for acquired brain injury outside of Dublin.
Longford is the only county to have submitted a business plan for an acquired brain injury unit and the Minister acknowledge that plan this morning.
“While a decision on where those centres is not finalised yet, Longford/Westmeath is being looked at as a possible location for such a centre.”
Meanwhile clarification was sought from the Minister on the retention of eye services and the upgrading of the X-ray unit at St Joseph’s.
“St Joseph’s is a great site with the ability to do a great deal more: I spent quite a lot of time there today speaking to residents and staff and the quality of care is excellent there,” the Minister continued.
“The HIQA report shows that the main issues at St Joseph’s Care Centre is the environment; the facility is not fit for purpose in terms of infrastructure and that is why I am determined to provide the capital funding so that St Joseph’s can deliver.”
He said he was not aware that services would be removed from St Joseph’s and indicated that his department wanted to do more to ensure that more work was done outside of the hospital setting.
“We need to use every tool at our disposal to ensure that our elderly citizens are cared for in the community and not in an acute hospital setting,” he added, before pointing out that the closure of two wards at St Joseph’s would be revisited in the context of the overall plan for the centre.
“We know that St Joseph’s has experienced pressures from HIQA which is rightly doing its job making sure that not just the service but the physical infrastructure too is fit for purpose,” Minister Harris continued.
“We know there is a need to build a fit for purpose building there and when that is done it will provide opportunities to reconfigure ward and perhaps provide more day care beds and respite services.