The legacy of the lost lives and the pain and hardship Mayo people have endured during the Covid-19 pandemic can only be the urgent delivery of the long promised critical healthcare facilities, according to Sinn Féin TD, Rose Conway-Walsh.
Deputy Conway-Walsh said: "The epicentres of the Coronavirus in Mayo were Mayo University Hospital and Belmullet Hospital. Progression of the Modular Unit in Mayo University Hospital is no longer optional. It is an insult to the people of Mayo and the staff working in the hospital that we are still waiting for this unit. It is critical to the safety of people living in Mayo and the region.
"The lack of isolation facilities in Mayo University Hospital and Belmullet Hospital has without doubt contributed to the inability to control the spread of infection. If these hospitals had proper isolation facilities/wards with single rooms, the risk of cross infection would have been greatly reduced.
"The limited facilities available for staff changing and showering is also not conducive to the safety of patients, staff and their families. I understand there are other contributing factors that led to cross infection and I am awaiting answers to a number of parliamentary questions from Minister Harris, but the physical capacity of the buildings have to be changed and upgraded.
"I have written to the HSE in recent weeks to ask that Development Plans prepared for Belmullet Hospital be included in the Capital Plan and fast tracked. The vital necessity of Belmullet Hospital as a step-down and respite facility, as well as a centre for delivery of multiple healthcare services, has again been brought to the forefront in this pandemic.
"A fully functioning hospital in Belmullet benefits the whole of the population in Mayo, freeing up beds in Mayo University Hospital and other healthcare facilities, as well as providing much-needed respite for family carers - who are the forgotten heroes in all of this crisis.
"Many of them I have spoken to across the county, are completely exhausted, providing 24 hour care seven days a week. Patients with multiple complex healthcare needs were discharged to their homes from hospitals to free up beds, but as always there is insufficient home help and home care supports.
"It is time to rethink healthcare delivery here in Mayo as well as Nationally. We must stand together to demand progressive change and targeted investment. Lives depend on it."