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Opening of new innovative e-mental health hub overshadowed by closing of dementia service

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Photo: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

Photo: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

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Photo: Kirsty O’Connor/PA

The opening of a new e-mental health hub in Castlerea, Co Roscommon this afternoon by taoiseach Leo Varadkar and HSE CEO Paul Reid has been overshadowed by the recent closures of dementia services in the county.

A €2.6m e-mental health hub was opened this afternoon in Castlerea in what used to be the Rosalie Unit at Aras Naomh Chaolain, a dementia unit on the outskirts of the town.

Despite years of protesting by the families of the residents in the unit, it closed before Christmas and reopened its doors today as an online Children’s Mental Health (CAMHS) Connect service and a day hospital for psychiatry of later life (POLL).

The Connect service, which will be the first of its kind nationally is a “game changer” according to the taoiseach and if successful, will see other similar models open nationwide.

“If it works, it will be rolled out in the other parts of the country,” said the taoiseach via video-link at the opening of the centre today.

“Young people will be able to have consultations whenever they need it, without having to travel.”

The hub will be available for use across the country and through CAMHS Connect, young people will be able to see consultants virtually and through telephone without travelling an hour or two to see their doctors.

However, the grand opening was overshadowed by the closure of the Rosalie Unit in December at the very same premises and a long standing discontent of the lack of mental health services in the county.

11 residents of the centre were moved to Áras Mathair Pól in Castlerea, a HSE-run community nursing home.

HSE CEO Paul Reid encouraged the families of former residents to see the reopening as a “new beginning”.

“I would say to the families who had residents here or the staff that worked here for many years, today is a new beginning, I think it’s a great investment in the unit, it’s had some very difficult and challenging times in the past,” said Mr Reid.

“I would encourage the local community to see this as a dawning of a new beginning for Rosalie.”

“I’m very conscious of the history of these premises,” said the Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly.

“That period of history that it was, we all accept the difficulty that it was, but one of the commitments that we all gave, those of us that had the responsibility of a leadership at that time, to ensure that this facility would continue to play an integral part in the delivery of healthcare services.”

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