A 20-bed adult respiratory ward at Cork University Hospital (CUH) containing isolation facilities vital to the health of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, is finally set to open next weekend, several months behind schedule.
The €2.3m ward, paid for by Munster-based charity Build4Life, has been more than five years in the pipeline and should have opened last March, according to the original project timeline.
However the hospital repeatedly blamed staffing shortages for its failure to open the ward, which is fully equipped.
Build4Life founder Joe Browne, whose son has CF, said the project group had years to address the staffing issue, but did not do so.
The delayed opening of the ward is set to feature tonight in a RTÉ Prime Time programme examining how nursing shortages nationawide are affecting vital hospital services.
When Mr Browne learned last night that the ward is set to open this weekend, he welcomed the news.
“We are delighted, but it’s quite obviously a knee-jerk reaction to the Prime Time programme. Our concern now is that the ward will open at full capacity,” Mr Browne said.
Failure to open the ward has been repeatedly criticised in the Dáil, with Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher accusing hospital management of “foot-dragging at the very least and incompetence at the very worst”.
Last month, the ongoing row over the ward’s continuing closure hit the headlines again when 27-year-old CF patient Kim Doheny was sent home because there were no beds available.
She had travelled from Waterford for treatment for a respiratory infection.
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