Mixed messages filtered through the town this week regarding the reopening of St Vincent’s Care Centre.
At last week’s meeting of the Athlone Municipal District, Fianna Fáil councillor Aengus O’Rourke raised concerns regarding the staffing situation at St Vincent’s after it emerged that a number of those employed at the centre have handed in their notice, while others have reached retirement.
A statement released by the HSE this week said a recruitment process has begun to replace those leaving, and that both floors will be open once the full complement of staff is reached.
Speaking this week, Cllr O’Rourke said: “The statement all but confirmed that there is a staffing issue and that both floors will be opened when the required staffing numbers are in place. There still is a lot of doubt out there about when it is going to open. You can’t half open the hospital, as there are shared services on both floors. Do you leave certain services open and close others? It doesn’t work.
“The staff are not convinced that the numbers will be there to open the hospital - recruitment will take time. If the HSE have to, they need to get agency staff in there to open the hospital. I am not convinced it is going to be an easy reopening.”
Athlone Senator, Gabrielle McFadden, was more positive in her assessment, referring to the HSE statement.
“It is great news for Athlone to hear that St Vincent’s will be reopening in the coming weeks,” said Senator McFadden. “The building has been renovated to the most modern HIQA standard and local company A1 Cleaning is currently doing a deep clean on the building to prepare it to open its doors again”.
“The majority of staff who were temporarily redeployed will be returning to St Vincent’s,” she continued. “The recruitment process has begun to replace those who have retired. Once the full complement of staff is in place, both floors will be opened and the unit will operate at full capacity.
“The HSE said last July that they would have works completed and St Vincent’s open by the end of March this year, and they are pretty much there, give or take a week.”