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Biden sends best wishes to Roscommon palliative care facility

Biden had supported the work of a fundraising group in Roscommon.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN has sent a video message to the team behind a new palliative care unit in Roscommon.

Biden’s cousin Laurita Blewitt is involved in the fundraising and the US President had turned the sod on a similar facility in Castlebar. 

Yesterday he released a YouTube video in which he sent his best wishes to those involved in the project. 

In the video he spoke about the “deeply moving experience” of visiting the area and turning the sod on the development in 2017.

“I got to meet so many doctors, nurses, counselors and volunteers. In each of you I saw the values of your community, love, selflessness, compassion. That’s what hospice represents.

“The placement of dignity and empathy and support are shown in a special place of comfort.

“To the proud people of County Mayo and Roscommon you made it for me to always have a special place in my heart.

“As many of you know, my family traveled to Ireland in 2016. We felt so much love and it was also bittersweet since it was a trip that I had hoped to share with our son Beau, to come together and touch the soil of our Irish roots and our family’s history and heritage.

“The fact that it’s Beau’s name and memory woven into the tapestry of this hospice is something my family and I and his children in particular will never ever forget,” Biden said. 

Beau Biden died in 2015 after a two year battle with brain cancer. 

Roscommon Palliative Care Unit has been built on a site purchased by Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation. It came a short time after the opening of a similar facility in Castlebar.

The eight bed inpatient unit with full day-care came in under budget at €6.3 million. Both hospices were developed and paid for by fundraised income, a combined €15.5 million, and are a result of the great support received from the people of Mayo and Roscommon.

Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation has been in existence since 1993 and exists to provide palliative care services to people with life limiting illnesses and their families in County Mayo and County Roscommon.

Over the past 28 years the Palliative Care Teams have assisted in the care of over 18,000 patients and their families. In 2020 during the pandemic, the Foundation cared for 924 patients and carried out 4,474 home visits. 

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, speaking at yesterday’s launch, paid tribute to the efforts of the fundraising group. 

“This building and people it will serve is a wonderful testament to the local community’s generosity and good will.

“My Department and I are strongly committed to progressing palliative care services across Ireland.

“We want to ensure equitable access to palliative care services in every region of the country which will meet the palliative care needs of all who require it as our population grows and ages into the future.

“It is days like today when we get to understand the real value of comprehensive family and person-centred palliative care,” he said. 

Mike Smith Chairperson of Mayo Roscommon Hospice Foundation, who Biden mentioned in his video, spoke of the community’s almost three decades fight to get a palliative care facility.

“The dedication that the local community has shown over the last 28 years to get both Roscommon Hospice and the Mayo Hospice up and running is just remarkable.

“These services are so badly needed in this community and to be here today and hear the stories of how our services have serviced families in both Mayo and Roscommon really makes it all worthwhile,” he said. 

With reporting from Christina Finn.

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