Substantial funding of €5.53 million has been allocated for investment in Portiuncula University Hospital in Ballinasloe under the HSE Capital Plan 2021.
The funding which was announced this week, will significantly enhance the infrastructure within the Saolta Group hospital which serves a catchment area in excess of 400,000 and is the main hospital for use by natives of Athlone and surrounding locations.
Welcoming the news, local Fine Gael Senator, Aisling Dolan, stated that the capital investment highlighted the urgent need to upgrade on single room numbers at this hospital especially in facing the pandemic in the last year.
“This is a 24/7 Level three acute and critical care hospital, it’s also a teaching hospital linked with NUI Galway and UL Medical Academies and is also the main hospital for Athlone. I want to pay tribute to our frontline healthcare staff who took care of our Covid-19 patients in facilities that are not fit for purpose. It was extremely difficult to isolate patients and whole wards were taken over.
“With only 13 single rooms, our senior clinical team took the innovative step to immediately find more space and proposed a plan to move the Outpatients Department to a modular unit with 14 minor injuries treatment rooms on the grounds of the hospital. In repurposing this space in the hospital now there will be access to 12 more single rooms en-suite. The plan for construction of the extra 12 rooms is towards the end of the year and this needs to be accelerated.
“Following on from a meeting I secured with the previous Health Minister Simon Harris in 2019 where funding commitments were given to a 50 bed ward block, the initial planning had been approved from 2016 and this commitment moved this project to the HSE priority list.
“A sum of €4.19 million is allocated in funding for 2021, the enabling works stage is coming to completion and we are now moving to the construction stage. This final tender selection will take place by mid-August.
“Other crucial funding includes €440,000 for replacement lifts and €500,000 for fire detection, alarm and lighting systems.
“Funding has been approved for a replacement CT scanner. However, building works to house this equipment is also urgently required for 2022 and this will need engagement by all stakeholders.
“We have to make funding count for our most vulnerable and to ensure that we are prioritising care in regional areas as well as our urban centres. I look forward to the integration of primary care and hospitals through Sláíntecare as well as the investment in e-health to digitise our health service.
“This crucial investment of €5.5 million in one of the seven hospitals within the Saolta Group will ensure that we have the facilities and equipment to put our patients first and to give the highest level of care.
“It is supporting over 850 healthcare heroes in Portiuncula Hospital who worked all through this pandemic and saved lives. This hospital, like many others, has fought the battle with Covid-19 however even moreso with lack of facilities to cater for isolation and challenge in keeping staff safe.
“This adherence to public health guidelines, staying safe, wearing a mask and the incredible take-up of the vaccination programme will ensure that we reduce the number of hospitalisations and means we did not run out of beds or oxygen,” Senator Dolan asserted.