St Vincent’s Care Centre is on schedule to meet its end of March deadline for reopening.
The message was delivered by a delegation from the HSE at Monday’s meeting of the Athlone Municipal District (February 6 ).
The HSE representatives, including head of primary care, Joe Ruane, and his colleague Brian O’Connell, attended the chamber to deliver an update on how works have been progressing.
Addressing councillors, Mr O’Connell said he was happy to report that the work is now 75 per cent complete. He added that as well as rewiring some painting and decorating had taken place, along with some works aimed at improving the privacy of residents and the image of the centre in general.
Councillors had voiced their concerns at previous meetings regarding the level of communication there has been between the HSE and the staff and residents of St Vincent’s, who have been living and working at locations in Birr and Longford since the decision was made last year to close the facility due to concerns over fire safety issues.
Mr Ruane told councillors that patients, their families, and staff from the centre were provided with a full update in January. He blamed rumours as being responsible for the misinformation surrounding the completion time of the works, but later acknowledged that there could have been an improved line of communication.
Mr Ruane added that patients who have been moved will be allowed the option of staying in their new residences if they so wish, saying that he expects the majority to return to Athlone. Staff of the centre have been updated by memo, while face-to-face meetings will take place between the HSE and those affected in the near future.
Fine Gael councillor, Tom Farrell, commended the fact that the centre’s residents will be allowed to choose where they want to stay, and questioned whether staff would have the same option.
Fianna Fáil’s Aengus O’Rourke welcomed the news that the HSE had been in touch with residents and staff from the centre to clear up any confusion. He further expressed his satisfaction that the hospice unit at St Vincent’s has remained open throughout the duration of the works, referring to it as “crucial infrastructure in terms of palliative care”.
Fine Gael councillor, John Dolan, commended the HSE for the news. “We always hear negatives about the HSE, so it’s no harm to hear the positives,” he said.