Hospital's patient wait for Cowen opening
BRIAN Cowen waited until his final days as Taoiseach to officially open a hospital in his hometown.
The Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore, Co Offaly, first opened its doors almost four years ago -- in May 2007. But Mr Cowen finally got around to unveiling a plaque on the wall of the impressive €150m building yesterday. Earlier in the day, Offaly councillor Tommy McKeigue (FG) took to the local airwaves to criticise the move. He was highlighting how frontline staff were under stress as beds had been closed and medical equipment "lying in boxes not being used".
However, Mr Cowen hinted during his speech in the hospital last night that he rejected these criticisms as the hospital was a "major landmark" and part of his "departing legacy".
One person who did not agree that Mr Cowen had waited too long to officially open the building was the hospital's first-ever patient. Mr Cowen stopped to talk to Esther Robbins (65), who suffers from a weakness in the heart and cirrhosis of the liver.
"Do you get back to Clara at all?" asked the Taoiseach, who is himself a Clara native.
The HSE said last night that the Midland Regional Hospital was one of the few purpose-built "standalone hospital buildings outside of Dublin".
At the moment, it has 231 beds open to patients.