Update 6.32pm: The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has expressed deep concern after the decision by the HSE to transfer patients out of St Vincent’s Care Centre in Athlone.
Management have cited health and safety reasons for this decision, indicating that there is an unsafe electrical fire risk involved.
“While the provision of safe care is of primacy, we are greatly concerned that a decision was made to move residents at short notice,” said INMO Industrial Relations Officer, Anne Burke.
“We will be meeting HSE management at the earliest opportunity, where a number of issues will be put, and seeking confirmation that the closure of the centre is only temporary, and that St Vincent’s will reopen in the shortest possible time.
“It would have been appropriate for HSE management to contact the INMO in advance of this in order to arrange appropriate contingencies for all patients and staff, and it is a matter of grave concern that they failed to do so.
“INMO will be demanding concrete evidence that such a dramatic disruption to the lives of residents and staff was absolutely necessary when we meet management. This meeting must happen as a matter of urgency.”
An INMO members’ meeting has been arranged for tomorrow evening, and the INMO are scheduling a meeting with management at the earliest possible time.
SIPTU has written to the Health Service Executive (HSE), seeking confirmation of the re-opening date for the centre.
“The management of the HSE must provide clear and unequivocal assurances that this is a temporary measure and that it will seek to ensure there is a minimal impact on the residents, their families and the staff providing this vital public service,” said SIPTU Health Division organiser, Paul Bell.
“The resources for the refurbishment of the facility must be made available as a matter of priority by the Minister of State with responsibility for Older People, Helen McEntee.
“The extra staff required to carry out the transfer of these vulnerable residents must be deployed immediately and the residents’ families provided with certainty concerning the date that their loved ones can return home to St Vincent's.”
Residents at St Vincent’s Care Centre in Athlone are being transferred to alternative accommodation after an electrical report revealed a number of risks.
Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Helen McEntee confirmed the move today, which will take place on a phased basis over the next couple of days.
The Minister has been reassured by the HSE that this is a temporary measure and that the necessary mitigating actions are being taken including the deployment of extra staff for the duration of the transfer.
Communication with residents and staff began yesterday evening and will continue through the process.
St Vincent’s Care Centre will re-open as soon as possible once the necessary refurbishment works are completed.