THE city, county and region has received a huge boost with confirmation by Environment Minister Phil Hogan that 13 million euro is to be spent on the upgrading of services at St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny. Following the grant, the long awaited new state-of-the-art Emergency Department (A&E) is to be built without delay as will the new Medical Assessment Unit and the third strand of the new-look hospital, the Day Services Unit.
Planning permission for these and other new buildings on the campus has already been secured from the local authority. It is expected that work will start at the end of the summer once the tendering process is completed and will continue for two years giving hundreds of construction jobs and providing a further lift to the local economy.
Poignantly, a promise made to the late Suzie Long for improved cancer detection services at the hospital has been kept. It has come too late for the health system campaigner but it ensures that many like her will get diagnosed early and receive treatment allowing them to live full lives afterwards. The new Day Services Unit will carry out colonoscopies and other endoscopies and will be named in her honour.
Dr Garry Courtney, Clinical Director at St Luke’s Hospital said the announcement was a huge boost for the hospital. “It is also a tremendous morale boost for the staff who have worked so hard to makes St Luke’s the great hospital is is today,” he said. “We will be able to provide a hugely improved service to patients thanks to the allocation,” Dr Courtney added.
The work will also include the roll-out of other services complementary to the main specialist areas in the hospital. At present, there are 1,200 people working at St Luke’s with 900 of those full-time. It provides another 800 jobs in service, maintenance and other contracts making it by the far the largest single employer in the region.
Hospital managers are confident that the development will lead to opportunities to increase that number once the thee new buildings are completed and being used. The news come on the same day as a new primary care medical unit opened on the Granges Road, Kilkenny the Ayrfield Medical Park.
Minister Hogan, who has been a tireless campaigner for St Luke’s, pledged last year that it would be retained under a Fine Gael led Government and he has delivered on that promise. “Despite all the arguments to the contrary, I always firmly believed that Kilkenny, with its population and central location, just could not be left without a major hospital”, said Minister Hogan.
“I am now delighted to be in a position to announce that this is the situation and that St Luke’s will receive a E13 million upgrade. “This is also a tribute to the excellent work and initiatives being carried out by the hospital’s excellent medical team,” Deputy Hogan said.