Senator Aisling Dolan welcomes the investment of €5.53 million for 2021 in Portiuncula University Hospital.
This capital investment of over €5.5 million in Portiuncula University Hospital for 2021 highlights the urgent need or single rooms at this hospital especially in facing the pandemic in the last year.
Portiuncula University Hospital is a 24/7 Level 3 acute and critical care hospital, it’s also a teaching hospital linked with NUI Galway & UL Medical Academies. With a catchment area of over 400,000 in East Galway and across neighbouring counties of Roscommon, Westmeath, Offaly, North Tipperary, it is also the main hospital for Athlone. I want to pay tribute to our frontline healthcare staff who took care of our Covid-19 patients in facilities that are not fit for purpose. It was extremely difficult to isolate patients and whole wards were taken over.
With only 13 single rooms, our senior clinical team took the innovative step to immediately find more space and proposed a plan to move Outpatients Dept to a modular unit with 14 minor injuries treatment rooms on the grounds of the hospital. In repurposing this space in the hospital now there will be access to 12 more single rooms en-suite. The plan for construction of the extra 12 rooms is end of the year and this needs to be accelerated.
Following on from a meeting I secured with the previous Health Minister Simon Harris in 2019 where funding commitments were given to a 50 bed ward block. The initial planning had been approved from 2016 and this commitment moved this project to the HSE priority list. €4.19 million is allocated in funding for 2021, the enabling works stage is coming to completion and we are now moving to the construction stage. This final tender selection will take place by mid-August within the next few weeks.
Other crucial funding includes €440k for replacement lifts and half a million for fire detection, alarm & lighting systems.
The total breakdown of funding for ongoing projects for 2021 for Portiuncula Hospital includes
Half a million for fire detection, alarm & lighting systems
Funding has been approved for a replacement CT scanner however building works to house this equipment is also urgently required for 2022 and this will need engagement by all stakeholders.
With the largest budget announced by the government in last year’s budget, we have to make it count for our most vulnerable and to ensure that we are prioritising care in regional areas as well as our urban centres. I look forward to the integration of primary care and hospitals through Sláíntecare as well as the investment in ehealth to digitise our health service.
This crucial investment of €5.5 million in one of the seven hospitals within the Saolta Health Care Group will ensure that we have the facilities and equipment to put our patients first and to give the highest level of care. It is supporting over 850 healthcare heroes in Portiuncula Hospital who worked all through this pandemic and saved lives. This hospital like many others has been fought the battle with Covid-19 however even moreso with lack of facilities to cater for isolation and challenge in keeping staff safe.
Thank you to our community as well as incredible GPs, pharmacies and paramedics who have also been at the frontline. At vaccination centres close to 30,000 people from the age of 16 got their first vaccine over the August Bank Holiday and the 12-15 age group will be able to get vaccines within the next 2 weeks.
This adherence to public health guidelines, staying safe, wearing a mask and the incredible take-up of the vaccination programme will ensure that we reduce the number of hospitalisations and means we did not run out of beds or oxygen.