Concerns raised over staffing at St Vincent’s

Robert Grace

Mayor of Athlone Aengus O’Rourke has raised concerns regarding staffing levels at St Vincent’s Care Centre.

Mayor O’Rourke was speaking after news emerged last week that the second floor of the centre is set to reopen.

St Vincent’s was forced to close back in 2016 when an electrical problem was uncovered in the building. Residents were temporarily moved to other nursing homes in the region.

While the centre was closed for repairs, further upgrades were made to improve patients’ comfort and privacy, before St Vincent’s partially reopened last March, with just one floor operational.

Mayor O’Rourke this week questioned the timing of the reopening of the centre, which he still believes is suffering from staffing issues.

He said: “It appears that the proposal is to reopen the hospital to full capacity, and to reopen the floor that has been idle since the hospital was refurbished recently. But really what has shocked the families of patients and the nursing staff is that this is to be done without any additional resources being put in place.

“The point that staff are making is that they are already operating a single floor of the hospital on limited resources. In the last year, more staff have left the hospital than have joined, so it just does not add up.

“To do it they need a significant number of additional care staff employed, and we all know how difficult that is. Care staff are difficult to find, whether it be on the open market or agency staff. So, the HSE needs to come clean on this. They can’t just announce that they are opening the second floor, doubling the capacity of the facility, and not set out a plan regarding how that will be managed and resources, and how the service will be provided. In a care facility, that just screams incompetence that they wouldn’t announce how it will be run.”

Responding to Mayor O’Rourke’s concerns, a statement from the HSE said it is intending to bring the second story unit back to full capacity on a phased basis.

“There are currently 18 residents in St Vincent’s Care Centre and the HSE plans to bring the unit back to full capacity to a maximum of 36 beds. Clients are assessed prior to admission to ensure that their needs can be met, and admissions will be on a phased basis. Management are committed to providing quality and safe care as reflected in HIQA reports, and are working with unions to resolve issues in relation to rosters,” the statement reads.

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