Athlone hospice is ready to open

Following several years of extensive fundraising and the negotiation of several stumbling blocks along the way, the South Westmeath Hospice facility in Athlone is preparing to open its doors to patients from September 6.

The brand new building, the fruit of the tireless fundraising work of the South Westmeath Hospice Committee, is now complete, and the HSE has confirmed that staff will be in place by next Wednesday. The final touches are being put to the building this week, and an open day will take place on September 3 to give the public the opportunity to preview the newly built facility.

The hospice has now been handed over to the HSE to manage and run. However, the hospice committee will continue to have an input in terms of fundraising for extra services such as occupational therapy and acupuncture. In addition, the committee has undertaken to contribute €100,000 towards the cost of staffing the unit for the first 12 months.

Chairman of the South Westmeath Hospice, Dr Tony Lowry, says the opening of the facility marks a significant day for the people of Athlone.

“This is a tremendous achievement for the area and all concerned,” he said.

“Having contributed almost €2 million to this project over the last few years, the people of Athlone have a lot to be proud of. It is their commitment, and that of the hospice team, that has made this facility happen. We are indebted to all of our contributors and hope that this new centre will provide the much needed palliative care for the people of South Westmeath for many years to come.”

Mayor of Athlone Sheila Buckley-Byrne visited the building yesterday for a preview of the facilities and services.

“It is a fantastic facility and I am delighted to see it fully completed. I am looking forward to the opening and to having all the staff in place,” she said.

“ It has been a long process, but the first staff have moved in and it is due to be handed over to the HSE. All the credit must go to the committee and to the people of Athlone for pushing forward the facility.”

The 8,400 sq ft hospice building on two floors is a purpose-built intermediate palliative care unit located on the same site as the base for the homecare team and day care facility at St Vincent’s Hospital.

The hospice facility consists of four single bedrooms with en suite assisted bathrooms and toilets, a standard medical treatment room and office accommodation for nursing staff, storage space, dayroom/dining area for patients, and a family room.

The management and co-ordination of the four designated beds will be integrated with the already existing management structure at St Vincent’s District Hospital, Athlone. The day care centre and outpatient facility is on the same site and the building provides for these requirements. These include a function room, dining room and kitchen, an office for day care coordinator, a doctor’s office and consulting room, toilets, and assisted bathrooms.

The public opening takes place on September 3 from 11am to 4pm.

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