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Woman with brain condition left in 'unsuitable' ward for 10 months

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Diagnosed two years ago: Triona Hanly (55) was unaware she could be at risk of Huntington’s disease, an inherited illness, as she was adopted as a child

Diagnosed two years ago: Triona Hanly (55) was unaware she could be at risk of Huntington’s disease, an inherited illness, as she was adopted as a child

Diagnosed two years ago: Triona Hanly (55) was unaware she could be at risk of Huntington’s disease, an inherited illness, as she was adopted as a child

The family of a Dublin woman who has had to remain in a hospital ward for nearly 10 months are appealing to the HSE to fund her discharge to a suitable specialist centre.

Triona Hanly (55), from Carpenterstown, was diagnosed with Huntington's disease - a progressive brain condition - two years ago, leaving her with deteriorating mobility and speech.

She has been in a general ward in Connolly Hospital since early December and is one of its 29 "delayed discharges" - patients who do not need acute care but cannot leave until they have suitable step-down supports.

Her devoted husband Martin said: "Triona is getting very good care in Connolly and the staff are magnificent and very kind. But it is totally unsuitable for Triona."

He is appealing to the HSE to fund her discharge to Bloomfield Hospital in Rathfarnham which has the specialist supports, including a neurologist, as well as physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

He said she would qualify for the Fair Deal scheme but this would just cover the cost of her stay in a nursing home which would not be able to cater to her needs.

"The problem in getting Triona a place in Bloomfield is due to funding. It costs €14,000 a month to provide the 24-hour care and I am told the HSE cannot afford it at this stage," said Martin.

He said Triona had led an active and healthy life until around a decade ago when she started to experience symptoms including shaking.

She was unaware she could be at risk of Huntington's disease, an inherited illness, as she was adopted as a child.

"The symptoms worsened and Triona suffered very poor co-ordination, staggering and falling. She did not find out it was Huntington's until two years ago," he said.

"She has gone downhill since then and I looked after her for the best part of two years. She had seven hours HSE home help a week and then 21 hours for four weeks.

"I work as a postman and it became impossible to provide her with the level of care she needs. Triona ended up suffering a broken arm.

"Bloomfield Hospital has agreed to accept her but it is dependent on the HSE funding her care."

A spokeswoman for the HSE Community Health Organisation (CHO) in Dublin north city and county said: "Unfortunately, there is no supplementary funding available under the nursing home support scheme for additional care costs.

"In such circumstances, funding has to be identified from within personal resources or available resources within the CHO Dublin north city and county budget allocation.

"All requests for resources are prioritised and approved based on service user need and availability of financial resources which are finite."

Irish Independent