Patients are to be urgently relocated from St Vincent’s Care Centre in Athlone to other locations in the Midlands in order to facilitate emergency works.
The families of patients in the care of St Vincent’s and the staff of the centre were informed late on Tuesday evening (July 5 ) that an electrical problem at the centre poses a serious fire safety risk and requires immediate work.
It had been hoped that works on the electrical system would be undertaken while the centre remained open, but an inspection carried out has confirmed the centre needs to close to allow works take place.
Deputy Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran (Ind ) said he had been assured by the HSE that St Vincent’s Care Centre will reopen when the works are complete. However, at the time of writing (Wednesday ) families of patients in the care of St Vincent’s were not convinced.
Some referred to the manner in which Loughloe House was closed and said they did not trust that the facility will be reopened in the future. Many were refusing to remove their family members from the centre on Wednesday morning.
Deputy Moran said the safety of patients is paramount and the HSE, acting on health and safety grounds, have been left with no alternative but to transfer patients from the centre. He assured the public that this is a temporary measure and that the works could take five or six months.
“I would urge all those involved to ensure that the temporary transfer of patients can be done with the minimum of disruption and that the works can be completed as quickly as possible so that the patients can return without delay,” he said.
A statement released by the HSE on Wednesday morning also assured residents and their families that the measure is a temporary one, and that tenders for consulting engineers have been sought and an appointment imminent.
“The HSE wishes to confirm its commitment to long-stay beds in Athlone through the re-opening of St Vincent’s as soon as possible and in the medium term the opening of the dedicated 50-bed unit on the Clonbrusk site,” it read.
To compound the situation, a HIQA report released on Wednesday afternoon criticised the HSE’s failure to tackle overcrowding at St Vincent’s and provide better privacy for the residents in its care.
The report said that despite some improvement works taking place, parts of the premises occupied by residents were in disrepair. In response to the report’s completion last March, the HSE undertook to implement an action plan to address the identified non-compliances with statutory regulations. However, the report said that just 12 of the 22 actions promised in November 2014 had been completed 17 months later in March, 2016.
The majority of St Vincent’s Care Centre’s residents are due to be transferred to vacant beds in St Joseph’s Care Centre, Longford, and Birr Community Nursing Unit over the next three days. In addition, some residents will be transferred to other public and private nursing homes.