As locals in Roscommon fought this week to retain their hospital services, there was good news in Athlone over the future of St Vincent’s Hospital.
Local councillors gave a cautious welcome to the news that the future of services at St Vincent’s Hospital is safe, and that the primary care centre is on track.
Cllrs Sheila Buckley Byrne, Aengus O’Rourke, Paul Hogan, and Gabrielle McFadden met with local HSE manager Joe Ruane last Friday
“I can confirm with absolute clarity that we got reassurances that St Vincent’s Hospital will not close,” said Cllr Buckley Byrne, who led the deputation during her final week as mayor of Athlone.
“It is to be the community facility for Athlone for elderly care, and there are no plans to reduce services. A planning decision has also been made on the primary care centre; it won’t be the size originally planned, but it is still substantial and will be under way this year.”
Cllr O’Rourke agreed that it had been a positive meeting, during which, among other issues, they spoke about respite care, palliative care, ambulances, MidDoc, and HIQA.
“I was upbeat coming out of the meeting and I felt we got frank reassurances regarding St Vincent’s. It is not at risk and it is not to be downscaled. They indicated that the capacity will be in the region of 40 residents or patients.
“I asked for a plan for healthcare in Athlone and [Mr Ruane] agreed they would work on this towards the end of this year and have a three-year plan blueprint. This will give us a firm footing on which to build.”
Meanwhile Cllr Paul Hogan said he was giving the news a “cautious welcome, having dealt with the HSE on Loughloe House”.
“Athlone has taken its consolidation. We had 100 beds, now we have 40. We’ve already taken cuts in services, and Joe Ruane accepted this, he is saying that Athlone has taken its hit,” added Cllr Buckley Byrne.