THE LAST of the residential patients accommodated in St. Senan's Psychiatric Hospital will be gone from the old building by mid-March, it is expected. Work on fitting out alternative centres in Enniscorthy and Wexford is already under way, while hospital management meet trade union representative this week to discuss how the transfer will work.
The changes will bring an end to more than a century and a half of care for people with mental difficulties at the red-brick St. Senan's complex in Brownswood. Fresh alternatives have been built in three locations – two a short distance away on the other side of the Slaney from the hospital and one close to Wexford General.
Farnóg Nua in Wexford will soon be opened to take 20 elderly patients from St. Senan's, along with others due to move from Ely House. Meanwhile 13 service users with intellectual disabilities from St. Christopher's ward are gearing up to occupy their newly built home at Haven View in the grounds of St. John's Community Hospital.
A further 12 patients with enduring mental illness will soon be on the move from St. Enda's ward to the Mill View centre, also adjoining St. John's. Many of those shifting from east to west Enniscorthy are old enough to have experienced the times, 30 years ago, when St. Senan's Hospital had 500 patients in its care.
It is expected that several beds will remain in the old building to offer short-term respite accommodation to clients of the mental health service. The vast complex will otherwise fall silent at night, though it will continue to provide office space during the day while patients will be cared for at home or in smaller units.
'I will still be here,' said director of nursing Kevin Plunkett whose responsibilities extend to Waterford as well as Wexford. ' St. Senan's had such an important presence. It had its place and now it's gone, hopefully for the better.'
He confirmed that mid-March is the provisional target for moving the last of the full-time residents from the hospital and revealed that the milestone in the history of the mental health service will be marked by an event when former patients and staff will be invited back to the old hospital.