THE Save St Joseph’s Campaign Group has welcomed the statement by Fine Gael deputy Peter Fitzpatrick about the future of St Joseph’s nursing home in Ardee but have made it quite clear that nothing has been decided yet by the Government and the home has not been saved.
“The threat remains,” John Rafferty chairman of the group said.
“When the threat was first leaked, the people of Mid-Louth rallied to the call and over 2,000 filled the streets of the town to voice their opposition to this threat.
“Long term investment as the only solution.”
ST Joseph’s nursing home in Ardee is facing a number of options put forward by the HSE in order to safe-guard its future.
A HSE report has outlined proposals for the future of the nursing home.
The report states that the Government’s moratorium on recruiting staff has meant that agency staff has been required at St Joseph’s which is putting pressure on the home’s budget.
The HSE wants to reduce the cost of a bed at St Joseph’s from E1,716 euro per week.
Another option offered in the report is to develop the home into a retirement village but this would require outside investment of E8.5m euro.
The HSE owns the adjoining land at St Brigid’s to follow through on this idea which would develop health services in the county. The idea has the backing of Louth Local Authorities.
The report ‘Option Appraisal for the potential reconfiguration of Residential Services in St Joseph’s Hospital Ardee’ started the public consultation process which finidhed in January.
Ardee Town Council produced its own radical plan for the future of St Joseph’s public nursing home.
In a submission to the Health Service Executive (HSE) the council submitted a detailed plan for a new health and community centre built round St Joseph’s which would serve the town and the North East region.
The plan would be similar to the retirement village asuggested by the HSE in its report on the nursing home published last year.
It would be a retirement village, with a day care centre, an active retirement centre, a mental health centre for young people, and a shared sports facility near the new Ardee Educate Together school, the site for which has already received planning permission.
Cll Fintan Malone, who helped draw up the plan, said this was a chance to move St Joseph’s forward.
He said the hospital had been set up in 1922 and had been the basis for the building of St Brigid’s. That heritage could now be maintained.
Sinn Fein deputy Gerry Adams and Ardee Town Councillor and county cillor Pearse McGeough have also called for retention of St Joseph’s nursing home in Ardee.
In a submission to the HSE on the future of St Joseph’s they have called for “the retention of the existing long stay beds at St Joseph’s Hospital.
The two local representatives describe the care available at St Joseph’s as excellent and point out that it has the “support and confidence of residents and their families”.
They want the retention and expansion of the existing service as well as the development of the site into a campus which would incorporate a sheltered housing/retirement village, a primary care centre and day care complex.
The retention of the existing service in the short term coupled with the development of the site as a centre of excellence for the care of the elderly in the longer term is the best option for the future, they said.
“We believe St Joseph’s Hospital in Ardee is a centre of excellence which provides the model of care which the HSE should be supporting and developing rather than closing,” they stated in a submission from Sinn Fein.
“Given that the over 65 population in Louth has increased by 15.9 per cent since 2006 and is likely to continue to increase it is imperative that a high quality elderly care model is put in place, we believe that St Joseph’s Hospital in Ardee should continue to provide a public long stay care beds service. This vital service should be retained and developed for the elderly citizens of County Louth.
“Ardee was the first location in Ireland to be awarded “age friendly” status and so has an opportunity to further develop the existing facilities at St Joseph’s to provide a variety of services on the one site and so establish itself as a flagship for care for the elderly in Ireland.
“Community care for the elderly is vital to prevent older people reaching an acute stage of illness that requires admission to hospital. We believe the Government need to be coming forward with a plan for enhanced provision for elderly members of our community through essential public nursing home beds, respite beds, community care facilities and home care.