The organiser of a petition calling for St Francis public nursing home in the city to be kept open as a residential facility aims to collect 10,000 signatures within the next month.
Former city mayor and vice chairperson of the HSE West’s regional health forum Cllr Catherine Connolly is appealing to people neto “stand up and be counted” and show solidarity with the residents and their families.
Her action comes in the wake of the local health authority’s decision, announced last year, that the 33-year-old home will close as a residential facility and only operate as a daycare centre in the future.
She says the HSE West plans to move the current residents to private nursing homes when the number reaches a critical level, below 15, she believes.
Councillor Connolly says the response to the petition to save St Francis Home has been “extremely positive” so far.
“I organised the petition because of the most urgent representations on behalf of residents currently in the home whose families are extremely worried at the proposal by HSE management to move patients to private nursing homes and close down the facility. The feedback from the public all along has been to the effect that the nursing home is wonderful. To contemplate closing it is a scandal.”
She said her supporters will be seeking signatures on Shop Street every Saturday during July. She is appealing to the public and to Galway’s elected representatives to sign the petition and/or to join in the campaign.
“The aim is to collect a minimum of 10,000 signatures to indicate to the Minister for Health and the HSE West the importance of keeping this public nursing home open. For all of the patients there St Francis Nursing Home has been their home now for so long that it would simply be inhuman to move any one of them to a private nursing home.
“On a more general level however St Francis is the only public nursing home on the west side of the city and indeed the only public nursing home in the city outside of specialised units in Merlin Park. If we allow this facility to close then the writing is clearly on the wall for all remaining public nursing homes in Galway.”
She insists the proposed closure is clearly against the wishes of the city’s councillors. “All of them have publicly expressed their support for this facility and indeed they passed a motion unanimously on Monday May 16 calling on the HSE West to reverse its decision and calling on the local TDs and in particular the Government TDs to take whatever steps are necessary at Government and Department of Health level to keep the home open. In addition 40 councillors on the Regional Health Forum and three TDs in Galway West - two of whom are part of the Government - gave their unanimous support to the campaign to keep it open.
“Moreover following an unannounced inspection of the facilities in September 2009, HIQA [HSE regulator] gave it a glowing report apart from highlighting difficulties with a lack of en suite facilities.
Cllr Connolly says Galway’s public representatives must now go a “step further” and she is appealing to all the local TDs and city councillors to sign the petition to keep St Francis Home open and/or join in the campaign.”
The gathering of signatures will take place this Saturday from 11am to 3pm at Shop Street and continue each Saturday in July.