A LONG-AWAITED relaxation garden for parents of seriously ill new-born babies, funded by a €100,000 donation from a mystery donor, is set to be opened by autumn.
After three years of negotiations, planning and delays, work on the quiet area facility at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) has finally been scheduled for the coming weeks.
It has been designed by renowned Irish gardener Diarmuid Gavin and is based on an award-winning creation he produced for the 2008 Chelsea Flower Show.
The donation which has funded the development is believed to have been made by the original star of Riverdance, Michael Flatley, although the identity of who gave the money has never been officially confirmed.
In total, the HSE has received €100,000 since late 2007 to create the development at the repeatedly overcrowded facility.
However, due to issues over the exact planning of the site, construction costs, and confirming that Mr Gavin could oversee the project, it has been unable to begin work on the relaxation area.
In a statement to the Irish Examiner, a HSE spokesperson confirmed that work on the new facility for the neonatal intensive care unit will begin in the coming weeks, with an expected building work timeline of two months.
Explaining the three-year delay in developing the site, the spokesperson said: “Last year, the project was progressed with the involvement of the HSE South’s estate’s department who were brought in for their expertise in careful planning to give access to materials and workers with minimal disruption to the maternity services.
“Waterproofing and other preparatory works were carried out before the garden could be created, while how the proposed garden would integrate with the existing construction detail of the hospital building was also examined.”
The spokesperson added that “specially commissioned sculptures which are currently warehoused” will also be transferred to the site at this time.
The relaxation area will be broadly welcomed by patients and staff at CUMH, which despite being heralded as a state-of-the-art €75 million hospital has been heavily criticised since its opening for failing to meet patient demand.
The facility was originally built for a capacity of 7,000 patients a year, but its annual admittance is about 2,000 people higher than this figure.
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