Elderly left in decrepit home due to red tape
ELDERLY patients remain in a decrepit building because a bureaucratic hold-up is preventing them being transferred to a new state-of-the-art nursing unit.
Relatives of the 40 patients were furious when told of the delay in moving their loved ones to the €16m community-based unit in Dingle, Co Kerry, just days before they were scheduled to be transferred.
The senior citizens, most of whom are bedridden, cannot move from the crumbling building until a registration process -- involving a "tick list" from watchdog the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) -- has been completed.
Families have now been told that this process could take months.
They have called on Health Minister Mary Harney to intervene in the interests of the patients and common sense.
The HSE told families and staff on Thursday evening that the transfers scheduled for this Tuesday were being postponed.
They were told that a "a registration process" had not been completed. The process can take up to 26 weeks, it is understood.
Some 43 elderly patients, along with their families and staff, had been preparing for the move since early July.
They are currently based at St Elizabeths, the rundown building with just two showers for all patients where author Peig Sayers died.
A number of patients in other facilities in Killarney and Tralee were also due to return to their native west Kerry and take up residency in the new 68-bed hospital.
The transfer was already under way, with trucks and staff working around the clock. Nurses had also been given special training.
Office equipment, medical equipment and religious effects have all been moved to the new facility at the entrance to Dingle town, informed sources said.
"I am just sickened at what they have done. Where is HIQA's common sense? Who are these people?" local councillor Seamus Cosai Fitzgerald (FG) said.
He urged Ms Harney to intervene.
The land for the new hospital was donated to the people of Dingle by the O'Connor family, Shane and Maura, the councillor stressed.
"This was at a time of a boom in property prices when it would have fetched millions."
In a statement, the HSE said: "The transfer has been postponed due to the fact that the required Health Information & Quality Authority registration process for residential care services for older people is not completed on the new facility.
"It had been hoped that this process would have been completed in time to allow the move to go ahead, however, it is now clear that this is not achievable and a new transfer-of-service date will be chosen once registration has been provided."
A spokesman for HIQA said its inspectors carried out their inspection in June, and a draft report with between 30 and 40 action points was submitted to the HSE South late last week.
The HSE South had not come back to them with a response and the new hospital cannot be registered until this is complete. He refused to say whether serious issues had been raised by HIQA.
A hitch over staffing levels was resolved with unions in recent weeks.