A meeting to discuss the campaign to prevent the closure of Owenacurra mental health centre has heard that the HSE has made “the last nine months an absolute hell” for the facility’s residents.
Mr Roche read an email he had sent to three local representatives – TDs David Stanton, Sean Sherlock, and James O’Connor – on April 12 asking that they “throw their weight” behind the campaign on the back of the Oireachtas Health Committee calling for the decision to close the centre to be reversed.
“The HSE has done everything it possibly can to make the last nine months an absolute hell for the residents, staff and relatives,” Mr Roche said, adding that “there are very different attitudes to mental illness” elsewhere in Co Cork compared to “what Owenacurra residents are used to”.
Glenwood House, once mooted as a possible replacement for Owenacurra, has yet to open its doors despite being purchased 16 months ago.
Of the three TDs emailed by Mr Roche, only Mr Sherlock responded with a link to an interaction he had with HSE CEO Paul Reid at the Public Accounts Committee in March. None of the three were present at this week's meeting, each citing prior commitments.
The meeting heard statements from family members and their relatives, while the partner of a resident of Garnish House – a rented mental health facility in Cork City, whose residents were once also slated for transfer to Carrigaline – described her partner’s deteriorating health amidst the “uncertainty” about the move.
“It was really powerful for anyone with a heart, a very valuable meeting, very supportive,” Mary Hurley, a relative of a long-time resident of Owenacurra, said.
“I was very moved by people sharing their personal stories – we all know our own stories of course, but it was very good to hear other people speaking so powerfully and openly.”