Thursday 18 December 2014

Joy and tears as final Mount Carmel baby is born to worker

Published 01/02/2014 | 02:30

Some of the staff at Mount Carmel private hospital, which closed yesterday, stage a sit-in. Michael Donnelly/Collins

WITH all the sadness of a farewell and the joy of new beginnings, it was fitting that the last baby born at Mount Carmel was to a member of staff.

The news came as devastated staff at the private hospital staged a minor sit-in protest last night in the X-ray ward.

Anne Sweeney from Dublin, who had worked as ward clerk on the maternity ward at the private hospital for the last eight years, was the last woman to give birth there yesterday, as the hospital closed its doors after nearly 65 years of service.

The baby girl was born via C-section and is Anne's third child – and her third birth at Mount Carmel.

Emotional staff members last night attended a Mass in the hospital chapel, afterwards revealing it had been "like a funeral," with tears shed by many people.

Former colleagues embraced as they said goodbye after the Mass, while several security guards maintained a close eye on proceedings as the small sit-in got under way.

In the meantime, a community meeting was held at the nearby Dropping Well pub to show their support for maintaining the hospital.

Around eight staff members initially camped out in the X-ray department but it was thought more would join later when the nursing shift changed over last night.

Local people had organised to bring sandwiches and coffee in support.

One of the protesters was Deirdre Egan from Kilnamanagh in Tallaght, Co Dublin. An administrative worker at the hospital, she had worked alongside her daughter, Rachel, for the last 11 years.

"I loved working here and I loved working with Rachel," Ms Egan said.

Though confident of getting another job, she said she has a large mortgage and is worried about how she will pay it.

Catering staff Louise Long, Clare Farrell and Rita Farrell, who had all worked at the hospital for over 10 years, said they were "devastated" and still in shock after the announcement that Mount Carmel would close.

"I have a son studying law at Trinity College and a mortgage – what am I supposed to do?" asked Louise.

The catering staff had even been overlooked when the job losses announcement was made, she claimed, explaining that in total 382 jobs have gone.

The head chef, Bridget Redmond, had worked at the hospital for over 42 years, she added.

Another staff member who had worked "at the consultancy end' said she has "nowhere to go".

"We have no clinic, no theatre space and our elderly patients are contacting us asking 'Where will I be seen, I don't drive'," she revealed.

Dail Deputy Shane Ross attended the Mass, saying he still did not understand why the hospital has closed since the hospital had been in profit or at least had broken even in the last operating year.

Irish Independent

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