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Taoiseach 'very concerned' about reported circumstances of Meath nursing home resident's death

Micheál Martin says Hiqa should compile a report on what happened.

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said he is “very concerned” about the reported circumstances around the death of a County Meath nursing home resident.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy raised the case of 79-year-old Ultan Meehan who died in hospital just over two weeks after being admitted from the Kilbrew Nursing Home.

The Irish Times reported earlier this week Meehan was admitted to hospital with an infestation of maggots in a facial wound that the care facility was unable to manage. He had been suffering from dementia and terminal cancer. 

Sage Advocacy, which represents the needs of vulnerable adults, said it was a concern that no inquiry into the matter had been launched.

Murphy told the Dáil today that Meehan’s wife, Mary Bartley Meehan “needs answers” and queried why the former Health Minister Simon Harris did not launch an investigation at the time.

“I am very concerned about that case” said Martin, stating that Meehan’s wife is “entitled to a report at the very least”.

He added that Hiqa is the regulatory body over the nursing home sector.

“The case should be reviewed,” he said, adding that he has sought an update on the case.

“It is very worrying indeed in terms of Mrs Meehan’s own experience when she visited,” he said.

He described it as a “traumatic situation” which “deserves a comprehensive response” from Hiqa. Martin said the Meehan family had been through enough anguish.

The Irish Times reported that Ultan Meehan was brought to hospital two weeks after his wife, who visited him in the home, raised concerns with staff.

Ultan Meehan’s stepson Adrian Bartley – Mrs Bartley Meehan’s son – who had Down’s syndrome and dementia, died in the same hospital earlier this year, the paper reported.

Both men had shared a room at the nursing home and both had tested positive for Covid-19.

A statement from Kilbrew Nursing Home, released to TheJournal.ie yesterday, said:

“We extend our sincere condolences to Mrs. Bartley Meehan and her family on the recent passing of both her husband Ultan and son Adrian.

“However, it is not appropriate to go into clinical detail relating to any resident or their treatment. At all times, we work to provide the best of care to every resident, who each have a dedicated GP assigned to them.

“We submitted a report to Hiqa on 25th June 2020 regarding the late Mr Meehan and await the outcome of a further review by HIQA.

“Kilbrew Nursing Home, like many others, has been under acute pressure in the midst of the pandemic and its managers and staff have and continue to work extremely hard to deliver the best in care for all of its residents.”

A statement from the former health minister to this publication said Simon Harris “was indeed very concerned about the issues highlighted by Sage, an excellent advocacy organisation. His Department made Hiqa and the HSE aware of Sage’s concerns and was assured both were following up with the family”.

Harris said officials in the Department of Health consider all such matters in detail and advise the health minister.

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“Any queries pertaining to investigations or concerns should be referred to the Department of Health,” said the statement.

When questioned this morning about the case on RTÉ’s Today with Sarah McInerney, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said he would not comment on individual cases.

In addition to being asked about the Meath nursing home death, Micheál Martin was also asked today about the extension of maternity leave for those who had children during the Covid-19 crisis. 

The Taoiseach said a comprehensive response on the issue would be forthcoming. 

Martin was also asked about Barry Cowen’s drink-driving ban, with Labour’s Alan Kelly stating the new Taoiseach’s honeymoon period appeared to have lasted about two hours. 

Cowen is due to address the Dáil this evening and give a statement on the matter. 

The Taoiseach said “no politician is above the law”.

With additional reporting from Dominic McGrath

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