WHILE Waterford Regional Hospital ponders its future and tries to flex its considerable muscle, St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny has once again stolen a march on its bigger neighbour by deciding to cut ties with WRH in favour of a Dublin teaching hospital. This will have profound implications and will mean, if handled properly, an even better hospital in Kilkenny with the backup that a university hospital brings, with more expertise and staff. We hope that St Luke’s is not swallowed up by its bigger partner in the future. But this is not a time to be negative, it’s time to say well done to the best small to medium-sized hospital in Ireland.
And as Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said at the official sod turning of a €13 million development at the hospital on Monday while other hospitals in the region were conducting media campaigns, St Luke’s did what it does best, planned for the future and came up with what was best for the hospital, the patients of Carlow-Kilkenny and South Tipp and for the wider community.
The reason that St Luke’s is blossoming is the calibre of people out there. With a visionary like Prof Garry Courtney at the helm and hospital manager Anne Slattery (from Tipperary), the future looks bright. Her comments on Monday were profound and the consultation programme which was conducted with all staff in the hospital before a strategic plan was worked out has borne fruit. If St Luke’s has a problem it is that it doesn’t beat its own chest often enough. The list of achievements is incredible and it has managed to steer a safe course through very troubled waters and has been successful in getting the very best people and institutions to row in behind it. For example, it was announced on Monday that the Royal College of Surgeons and University of Limerick were each giving €250,000 towards new a library at the hospital to be used by it and Kilcreene hospital.
However, a word of caution. There have been false claims made that Kilcreene hospital is under threat. It is excellently run, and Minister Hogan assured the people of Carlow/Kilkenny on Monday that his focus would be on retaining St Luke’s and Kilcreene hospitals and building on the excellent work being carried out in both medical establishments.
Once again, Monday proves the importance of having a minister in your constituency. Whatever crumbs are at the Cabinet table are coming to us and while the capital projects are not going to the poor and needy, the benefits of building projects will filter back into the community. Well done, Minister Hogan, you are bringing millions of euro to Kilkenny but please don’t forget those who are really down and out and finding it almost impossible to make ends meet.