HOPES are rising that the long-awaited opening of a community hospital in Dingle, Co Kerry, will be sooner than expected.
The opening of the €16.4 million facility was scheduled for July 27 but was postponed at short notice as the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) indicated it was not satisfied the hospital met the required standards of patient care.
It was understood work required by HIQA to enable the hospital to be registered would take up to six months.
But the Dingle Hospital Support Group, along with Kerry South FF TD John O’Donoghue, reveal the HSE indicated to them the timeframe will be shorter.
Support group chairman Derry Murphy yesterday said he was “more than hopeful” the 68-bed hospital would be opened in the near future.
Constant contact was being maintained with the HSE at a high level, he said, adding the HSE was working “flat out” with HIQA to ensure everything was in order to complete the registration process.
“I’m very hopeful the timeframe will be shorter than six months,” Mr Murphy said.
Despite repeated requests, neither the HSE, nor HIQA, has explained the reasons for the delay.
However, Mr O’Donoghue said the two organisations have been in discussion and had agreed the usual six-month registration period will be speeded up.
The HSE also pointed out the hospital was designed and built prior to new regulations on the care of older people, overseen by HIQA, coming into force.
The hospital has been built for almost two years and there’s continuing anger and frustration in the Dingle Peninsula about the delay in transferring elderly patients from the 19th century St Elizabeth’s Hospital, Dingle, to the new hospital.
Around 1,000 people staged a protest march through Dingle, on August 6. HIQA has expressed concerns about a number of issues and will not allow the hospital to be registered until it is fully satisfied it meets necessary standards.
Dingle Fine Gael councillor Seamus Cosai Fitzgerald, who has called on Health Minister Mary Harney to intervene, suggested the hospital be opened immediately and the necessary work be carried out over a limited period.
But HIQA insisted they had to ensure all facilities met the needs of patients, that patients were safe and would receive the proper quality of care.
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