The main production kitchen in University Hospital Galway (UHG) has been closed for more than a week as a result of suspected rodent activity — with patients and staff given limited food options as a result.
It is understood that kitchen staff were called to a meeting on February 13 to inform them that there was an issue with the gas supply and, as a result, the production kitchen would be closed until further notice.
Following this, staff at the hospital discovered a dead mouse on the premises on Sunday, resulting in the continued closure of kitchen facilities used to feed more than 700 patients.
Throughout the week, food options available to patients have become further curtailed, with breakfast limited to cereals, while porridge is unavailable.
Lunches consist of pre-packed sandwiches and salads with tea or coffee, while patients on special diets are being catered for.
The only hot food being made available to patients is being cooked at Merlin Park University Hospital and transferred three miles across the city by van in evening rush hour. As a result, patients are receiving their first and only hot meal of the day just before 6pm each evening — between 45 minutes and an hour later than normal.
Sources in the hospital said staff from UHG were unable to enter the kitchen at Merlin Park until after 3pm as the kitchen there is run by HSE staff — UHG’s kitchen is run by Aramark, a private contractor.
The prefabricated structure to the rear of the Old Nurses’ Home on the hospital campus. Conditions are said to be poor, with the floors in bad order due to the prefab’s unsuitability for an industrial-size kitchen.
A spokesperson for Saolta University Health Care Group, the operators of UHG, confirmed that kitchen operations have been temporarily transferred to Merlin Park in order to deal with a pest control issue: “Galway University Hospitals has an ongoing programme of pest control across both its sites (University Hospital Galway and Merlin Park University Hospital) and has a significant level of pest control measures in place.
“This is an important programme as many of the buildings on both campuses were constructed originally in the 1950s.”