INMO protests closure of three Dublin nursing homes amid Covid crisis

INMO protests closure of three Dublin nursing homes amid Covid crisis
Sermen de la Vega & her daughter Danielle De La vega both from the city centre during a protest at St. Monica’s Nursing Home. Picture:Gareth Chaney/Collins

The INMO took part in lunchtime protest outside of St Monica's Nursing Home in Dublin today at 1pm, to highlight the planned closure of three former Sisters of Charity facilities, which will result in over 200 staff redundancies and the loss of 160 beds from the healthcare system. 

Caritas Convalescent Centre has 54 short-stay convalescent post-surgery beds, St Monica's has 46 nursing home beds, and St Mary’s Telford has 58 beds nursing home beds and a disability centre.

The facilities have been run for years by separate companies, with different boards of management, but were previously ran by the Sisters of Charity, who still own the buildings.

The closure of St Mary's was announced on June 3, and Caritas has been closed since March due to an outbreak of Covid-19 onsite. On July 9, the High Court appointed joint provisional liquidators to the company operating Caritas. 

On July 24, the Board of St Mary’s Centre Telford applied for a high court order to enter voluntary liquidation, and the High Court appointed Baker Tilly as liquidators the following week.

Both St Mary's and Caritas are on the Merrion Road, right beside St Vincent's Hospital. St Monica's is in Belvedere Place in Dublin 1, and its closure was announced on July 8. 

Staff at St Mary's previously told the Irish Examiner that they were fearful for their jobs, as well as for the safety of elderly patients who are being transferred to various different nursing homes. 

The INMO is calling on the HSE to step in and take over the running of these facilities, to protect the services for patients, and to maintain employment for the staff. 

The organisation says it is also concerned that "any reduction in step-down and nursing home beds will have a serious impact on the acute hospitals and emergency departments, which are already severely overcrowded."

The INMO is also calling for staff to receive a redundancy package in line with the public sector terms. 

In a recent Labour Court case, taken by the INMO, Forsa and SIPTU, the Court held that the public sector redundancy package is the appropriate payment to staff in Caritas Convalescent Centre.

The INMO said the Labour Court expressed the view that the Sisters of Charity along with the HSE, as the main funder, both have a responsibility to secure the means to implement this package.

"In recent months, these frontline workers have exposed themselves to risk of contracting Covid-19. 

In Caritas, one-third of the workforce contracted the virus," said Lorraine Monaghan, INMO Assistant Director of Industrial Relations.

"The State must intervene and take over the running of Section 39 and private sector organisations that close to ensure that patients are secure in these services and employment is maintained."

In a statement, the Religious Sisters of Charity said: "The Religious Sisters of Charity are very concerned about what has emerged in these three independent companies. 

"The Order set up these companies in the early 2000s with independent Board Members and Directors to govern the two nursing homes (St Mary’s Telford and St Monica’s) and Caritas so they would have professional management to take over from the ageing Sisters to run the establishments professionally and with the best advice into the future. 

"The Congregation is very disappointed to learn that there may not be enough funds to pay statutory redundancy to the staff."

In a statement, the HSE said: "St Monica's Nursing Home is owned by the Sisters of Charity and the current Board of Management have executive authority over the service.

"HSE Community Healthcare Organisation Dublin North City and County (CHO DNCC) are aware of the difficult decision taken by the Board of Management of St Monica's Nursing Home to close the service in a careful and considered manner.

"Relocation of residents is the primary responsibility of the Board of Directors and Management of any such residential care facilities that are outside the direct management of the HSE. 

"St Monica's Nursing Home is working closely with all residents, their relatives and loved ones, to support residents to choose new services of their preference, in line with public health guidance.

"CHO DNCC continues to support and liaise with St. Monica’s Nursing Home as required and appropriate.

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