Radical new plan for hospital site
By SIOBHÁN HOLLIMAN
FUNDING will be made available for a new €17 million primary care centre on the old Grove hospital site in Tuam through the government’s latest stimulus package.
The project is based on a radical new plan for the future development of the former Bon Secours Hospital that has been drawn up by the HSE West and differs significantly from the previous long-term plans for a 60-bed community hospital and ambulance base.
The revised brief includes a primary care facility, a community health facility, early intervention services for children with disabilities, the development of daycare services for older people, the provision of residential services for older people, short term accommodation for older people and palliative care beds.
Galway East Labour Deputy Colm Keaveney told The Herald that the money is there and Tuam is one of 35 locations around the country identified for the development of new primary care centres.
The projects will be rolled out in two bundles and Deputy Keaveney told The Herald that it is incumbent on the HSE to ensure the Tuam project is accelerated up its capital projects list.
“The ball rests firmly with HSE West now to step up to the mark and ensure this project happens as quickly as possible,” said Deputy Keaveney.
“Tuam will now become the hub for primary medical care in east Galway and the centre will provide integrated care in areas such as child, adolescent and adult mental health and for care of the elderly. The focus will be on providing such care in and through the community, which is a more holistic approach, particularly in regards to mental health services,” he added.
The HSE West previously discussed the plans for the facility with Minister Brendan Howlin during his visit to Tuam two months ago and a feasibility study has been carried out.
It’s envisaged that the project will be constructed in four phases and Deputy Keaveney is anxious that there would be significant progress on the plan very soon to ensure that public residential care for the elderly continues to be a vital part of Tuam’s healthcare services.
“A good business case has been made and the onus is now on the HSE to ensure provision for the project is included in its capital programme,” said Deputy Keaveney.
Properties to sell
A list of HSE properties in North Galway that could be disposed of has been drawn up and this includes Aras Mhuire Community Nursing Unit on the Dublin Road and the existing health clinic on Vicar Street.
Deputy Keaveney said long stay residential care wouldn’t be lost to the town and that the plan will involve relocating the Aras Mhuire facilities and services to a new purpose-built facility.
In 2002, the former WHB submitted a €50 million plan to the Department of Health to build a 60-bed community hospital with x-ray facilities on the seven-acre site, as well as an ambulance base.
While construction work is nearing completion on the ambulance base, the hospital project has been a much-kicked political football since the old private hospital was bought by the HSE in late 2001 for circa €4 million.
The Labour TD says the €50 million plan was never realistic and that “it was that grotesque ambition that nothing got done in Tuam.”
The old Grove site could also see the centralising of a number of HSE services that aren’t currently based in Tuam, such as those operating from rented accommodation in Westside in Galway city.
Deputy Keaveney says there are ambitious savings that could be made by centralising a number of services and by making greater efficiencies by not having to rent as many properties.
The Grove site has also been suggested by the HSE as a possible location for the West’s regional Pieta House project, which, up to now, has been earmarked for the Toghermore Integrated Mental Health campus, a mile outside the town centre.
Those campaigning for the centre are opposed to the old hospital site and are adamant that the Toghermore campus is their preferred location.[/private]