The future of the Sacred Heart Hospital in Castlebar has been a thorny issue that An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, has had to deal with since taking office. The Taoiseach has always expressed confidence that the facility would be retained and improved, and yesterday he laid out the plans and timeline for a new and improved Sacred Heart Home.
Speaking to the Mayo Advertiser yesterday morning, Mr Kenny broke the news that planning permission for the upgrade of the Sacred Heart Hospital in Castlebar would be formally lodged on Monday February 16. The Taoiseach said: “This is great news for the county and for the Sacred Heart Hospital, which is a great facility that has served this county well for many years and these works will secure its future for a long time to come.” The Taoiseach added that he had spoken to the staff in the facility and said: “You can’t say highly enough of the staff and the work they have done down there in the past, and this will ensure it will continue into the future.”
The Taoiseach also outlined to this newspaper the timeline of the works which will see the new two storey facility open by December 2016, a year ahead of the original completion date of December 2017. This will be a new development which will see the works completed in a year, rather than two years planned to refurbish the original building. The two storey facility will have 35 single en suite rooms and one double en suite room on each floor, with a total of 74 beds in the development.
He also confirmed there would be no issues with HIQA regarding the home, even though compliance deadlines do come into place in mid-2016 and there would be a “grace period” granted where works are ongoing.
The Taoiseach outlined that there were a number of design options considered by the design team for the facility, with the original plan being to upgrade, refurbish, and extend the existing wards. However an evaluation of this option led to the conclusion that the ground was not suitable, and the ground works alone would cost well over €1 million with subsidence issues to be dealt with.
It was also decided that it would be too costly to improve the air-tightness and insulation on the existing building, so after examination of the ground conditions the front of the site was deemed to be the most suitable for the project. The work on the design began last October and the Sacred Heart Hospital is now in the position to lodge the planning application on Monday February 16.
The schedule for the project will see the planning application lodged this month, with the publication of the EU tender notice going out in May. In September 2015 the tender documents will be issued and the contractor will be selected by November this year. Works will commence in January 2016, with the works completed by December 2016. It was also confirmed by the Taoiseach’s office that the design team who have planned this project have been in constant contact with the planning authorities throughout the process.
(This article was edited on Friday, February 6 at 12.44pm to correct the name to Sacred Heart Hospital from its former name Sacred Heart Home ) - CG