€1 million expected for construction of Alzheimer patient facility at Merlin Park says Walsh

Funding of up to €1 million is expected to be made available to allow for the construction of a long-awaited facility for Alzheimer’s patients at Merlin Park, according to a Government TD.

Plans by Western Alzheimer’s to establish a 22-bed unit on land owned by the HSE stalled last year over negotiations regarding the duration of the lease to be granted by the health authority.

The issue was eventually resolved but a further obstacle arose when the charity was refused permission to use the lease as security in its application for a loan to finance the construction of the facility.

However Fine Gael Galway West TD Brian Walsh said he expected funding of up to €1 million for the project to be approved by the HSE within days, which would obviate the need for the charity to seek a loan.

“I have held several meetings with the Minister for Health over the past six months,” he said, “with a view to surmounting a number of challenges that have arisen at various stages of this protracted process.

“Initially, there was the extension of the lease from 10 to 25 years but progress seemed to have stalled entirely when it emerged that the lease could not be used as security to finance the project.”

Dep Walsh proposed to Health Minister Dr James O’Reilly that grant aid be provided so that Western Alzheimer’s did not have to seek a loan. Dep Walsh understands that the proposal has been “favourably received”.

It is also understood that a provision of between €800,000 and €1 million has been verbally agreed by the HSE and the charity is now awaiting formal confirmation of the arrangement.

“It has been a long struggle but Western Alzheimer’s is a fantastic organisation that has long provided an invaluable service to people suffering from the disease, as well as their families,” said the TD.

Western Alzheimer’s provides assistance to more than 300 families in Galway, Mayo, and Roscommon, and 120 people in Galway avail of its home-care service. More than 5,000 people in the west suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, of whom 2,000 live in Galway.

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