Supporters of Midleton Community Hospital which has lost 14 of its 66 beds, are to write to the James Reilly, the health minister, inviting him to visit the facility.
The Co Cork hospital, which employs about 90 staff, now has 45 long-stay beds, five respite beds and two convalescent beds. It has lost beds after recording an occupancy rate of between 85% and 87% in the last year.
According to Kathleen Woulfe of the Friends of Midleton Hospital Group, the loss was due partly to a generous supply of private nursing homes in the area. “Other reasons include the fact that more people are staying home rather than going into nursing homes, while, because of the unemployment levels, more people are available to look after their elderly relatives and avail of the carer’s allowance.”
Ms Woulfe said the group, which raises funds for the hospital, decided to write to Dr Reilly to invite him to Midleton both to see the facilities on offer and ring fence the remaining beds.
“Patients have access to services such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and podiatry,” she said, adding that they could also avail of a hairdresser. Patients also enjoy pet therapy in the shape of a Golden Retriever called Molly, aromatherapy and a sensory garden, as well as a range of other activities, including art, music, gardening and ‘sonas’, or reminiscence therapy.
At this stage, she said, only four of the 14 beds earmarked for closure remained, and these would be closed by the end of April.
“We want to show the minister the services on offer at a good community hospital like this. Our staff are highly qualified both in palliative care and in gerontology and we have improved out palliative care facilities.”
She pointed out that Midleton was the first community hospital to have reached the standards to enable it to be registered with HIQA. “This is a major step in the continuing battle for the survival of the hospital,” she said, adding that the hospital had strong links with the community.
“Local children and residents come in regularly to play music for the residents and the local school fund-raise for the hospital.”
Midleton is not the only community hospital to suffer cutbacks. Earlier this month, a year-long campaign to save 16 beds at Clonakilty Community Hospital in West Cork failed. The beds are to close at the end of the month and more could be lost unless patients use them.
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