Fine Gael councillor Dolores Minogue says that Health Minister Simon Harris is planning to visit St Josephs Hospital Ardee in the near future, as campaigners continue to wait for progress on a new hospital unit to be built on site.
Minister Harris was in Louth on Monday to visit Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda and Louth County Hospital in Dundalk before he met Fine Gael councillors in Dunleer. Minogue says that while the Minister said that he was unable to fit in a visit to Ardee on this occasion, he assured her he would return to Mid-Louth.
In January 2016, it was announced that St Josephs will have an additional 30 beds in total available by 2021. The €9 million invetsment was part of a comprehensive programme of investment in public nursing home facilities by the the Department of Health.
That would bring the number of beds in St Josephs to 50 by 2021, the deadline for public nursing homes and care centres around the country to comply to HIQA standards. The HSE plan to build a new residential unit on site at St Josephs but no work has got underway on the project as of yet.
On June 17th 2013, Minister for Health Reilly announced – having completed a report and public consultation process on the matter of St Joseph’s – that €750,000 was to be invested in the facility.
Cost saving measures were implemented at the time and the €750,000 – which the Save St Joseph’s campaign says was never allocated – plus additional funding announcements has yet to yield any additional beds or significant improvement.
Minogue first contacted the Minister’s office about a visit to St Josephs at the start of November and while his visit on Monday passed without a trip to Ardee, the councillor says Harris has told her he will be back.
“I look forward to the Minister visiting Ardee in the future,” Minogue told ThisIsArdee.ie. “He said he’s looking forward to coming to Ardee and it’s definitely on his remit. “We need to hold the government to account.”
“To give Fergus O’Dowd his due, he’s been working on it as well. It was great to have that chat face-to-face about St Josephs with Minister Harris on Monday,” she added.
“We’re just waiting on an update and he will visit.”
In an open letter last year, Save St Josephs campaigners Kevin Bailey and John Rafferty wrote they were, “skeptical but stubbornly optimistic, despite so many other promises having been broken in the past.”
“In the five long years which have passed, the residents, their families and staff remain the real victims of this incompetence and ever-changing priority.”