Maternity hospital fire report due today

THE preliminary report on the fire damage to St Finbarr’s maternity hospital in Cork is due today.

The Southern Health Board said the early assessment report is expected to determine when the facility will be reopened to expectant mothers.

Two of the 20 mothers involved in Tuesday afternoon’s emergency evacuation from the building gave birth hours later in the Erinville maternity hospital.

A SHB spokesperson said yesterday: “Both mothers and babies are doing great.”

The expert report is also likely to provide the health board with a preliminary costing of damages and, possibly, the likely cause of the fire. Initial reports point to an electrical fault in a bathroom.

Four units from Cork city’s fire service brought the fire under control within a short period. However, the smoke and water damage to the first floor, in particular, was extensive.

“We expect a decision today when the unit can re-open,” a health board spokesperson.

A number of the expectant mothers were discharged and allowed home after the mid-afternoon fire.

All out-patient clinics at the hospital continue to operate as normal.

The health board said, if required, a ward was available for post-natal care in Cork University Hospital.

In the meantime, the health board is directing all mothers-to-be to the Erinville.

Meanwhile, community associations in the Sunday’s Well and Blarney Street areas are seeking a meeting with City Hall manager Joe Gavin following the serious fire which extensively damaged sections of the derelict Good Shepherd Convent earlier this week.

Local groups had previously outlined their concerns to the council’s planning authorities over the allegedly inadequate efforts to protect the landmark building.

A private development company hired a security firm to keep out vandals who, prior to the fire, caused damage to windows and others parts of the former convent and orphanage.

A member of the Sunday’s Well community group said: “The owner and occupier of a protected structure is obliged under law to ensure the building is not endangered. We are demanding City Hall conducts an investigation and enforces the legislation in respect of convent building which was a protected structure.”

In the meantime, University College Cork said its music department had taken the convent’s bell into safe keeping before the disastrous fire. The 19th century bell was found several years ago lying in one of the corridors.

The music department said it is storing the bell until it can be replaced in its original position.

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