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Athy ward closure "blow to the elderly"

Due to funding shortages, there are not enough staff to keep a ward open at St Vincent’s Hospital, a Care of the Elderly facility.

Image: John Birdsall/John Birdsall/Press Association Images

A SECOND WARD is to be closed at St Vincent’s Hospital in Athy, Co Kildare, which is a Care of the Elderly facility.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said that the move is a “devastating blow” to the elderly in the area.

Derek Reilly from the INMO said that the organisation believes the primary reason for the closure is one of funding.

There is sufficient staff within the hospital to keep the beds open. It is my understanding that no patients will be moved from the hospital but that as beds become vacant they will not be filled. In effect St Vincent’s Hospital is now closed to any further admissions. This is another devastating blow to our elderly population and a further erosion of our health services.

Jack Wall, an Athy native and Labour TD, told TheJournal.ie that he will be working with others on this issue.

“Any closure of hospital wards is obviously a major concern to everyone and we have to now seek to address that,” he said.

Kathleen Lynch, Minister for State at the Department of Health, is to visit Kildare South on 29 November and will be calling to St Vincent’s as part of that.

We will bring it to her attention that day the importance of the hospital and the plans the HSE and management has in relation to expanding the base of the hospital.

Deputy Wall will be meeting Health Minister James Reilly as part of a briefing given to parliament next week and said he will be bringing St Vincent’s to his attention on that date.

He will  also be seeking an urgent meeting with David Walsh, HSE manager for Kildare.

“It is an evolving situation obviously and there are no jobs going to be lost which is a positive thing,” he said.

The changes are expected to come into place in the new year.

Speaking earlier this year, Fine Gael TD Martin Heydon said that the people of Athy had concerns about future of the hospital, which is the biggest employer in the town.

Read: HSE announces second Laois nursing unit closure in two weeks>

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