18 Aug 2022

Construction on ‘new’ St Columba’s in Thomastown to begin by the end of this year - HSE


St Columba's Hospital in Thomastown

A long-awaited community nursing unit in Thomastown is expected to start construction by the end of this year.

Confirmation of the plan has come from the ‘Capital & Estates’ division of the HSE in response to a parliamentary question.

Promised since 2018, the new community nursing unit (CNU) should be completed by the end of 2024, if it starts on time.
Local Councillor Deirdre Cullen warmly welcomed the news, this week, having asked Deputy John McGuinness to raise the parliamentary question.

Paul de Freine, HSE National Director, Capital & Estates, replied to Deputy McGuinness that the Thomastown development will be part of “a bundle of CNUs expected to be delivered by way of public private partnership.
“It is anticipated that subject to financial close and contract award, construction of the new community nursing unit in Thomastown will start in quarter four, 2022, with expected completion by the end of 2024.”

When completed the new unit will have 95 bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms and support accommodation.
The current St Columba’s has about 15 beds for people with dementia. The new unit will see an increase to approximately 20.

Cllr Cullen said the new unit is absolutely vital for the local community.
“The care and support given by the staff of St Columba’s is second to none. They give amazing healthcare with one hand tied behind their backs. This new facility is so needed.”

The local councillor highlighted that the current St Columba’s building was constructed in the late 19th century and is now not fit for purpose.

She pointed out that a recent HIQA report raised concerns about fire safety in the building and evacuation procedures. While management have taken steps to alleviate this the building is simply not fit for purpose with modern requirements, Cllr Cullen said.
“It’s not good enough that this impacts the quality of life of residents,” she said of the current building. “In this day and age residents, care staff and support staff really need a new building.”
That new building will be constructed beside the existing building, which is a protected structure.
Paying tribute to the staff at St Columba’s, Cllr Cullen said they provide amazing support to the residents and it is through no fault of either group that the building is not fit for purpose.
Cllr Cullen said the project is something she will be keeping an eye on and she will raise the matter again if it is not started by the end of this year.

She also raised the matter with Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, on his recent visit to St Luke’s General Hospital.
“The community has waited long enough. This was promised back in 2018. It needs to get going now.”

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