Saturday 15 December 2018

Mitchelstown native appointed CEO of children's hospice

Orla O'Brien
Orla O'Brien

Bill Browne

Ireland's only dedicated children's hospice, LauraLynn, has announced the appointment of Mitchelstown native Orla O'Brien as its new CEO.

Established in 1925 as a convalescence home for children from inner-city Dublin, LauraLynn has evolved over the years and in 2011 it opened LauraLynn House, a dedicated eight-bed palliative care unit at the former Children's Sunshine Home in Foxrock. 

It is the only Irish children's hospice providing free support and palliative care for children from birth to the age of 18 with life-limiting conditions and their families.

Children can be referred to LauraLynn from anywhere in Ireland, with the charity providing care in their hospice, at a hospital, within the community or at the family home. 

Their interdisciplinary team work closely with primary health carers to provide high quality family support, symptom management, end-of-life care and bereavement support. 

In her new role, Orla O'Brien will oversee LauraLynn's extensive operations, bringing 28-years of acute hospital experience, 18 of which have been at management level, to the demanding role. 

Having qualified as a registered children's and general nurse in 1989, Ms O'Brien subsequently qualified a paediatric intensive care nurse before taking on management and leadership roles. These have included deputy director of nursing in Our Lady's Children's Hospital, project manager in the Dept of Health and, most recently, chief operations officer with the Children's Hospital Group.

Ms O'Brien said she was looking forward to taking on the challenges of her new role. 

"I'm really excited to join LauraLynn, an organisation that has done so much to improve the lives of children with life-limiting conditions and their families across Ireland," she said.

"Of the 3,840 children with a life-limiting condition living in Ireland today, over 700 are estimated to need the specialised care provided by LauraLynn, and I look forward to extending awareness and assistance to those families who currently do not avail of our palliative care services," said Ms O'Brien.

 LauraLynn chairman Niall McHugh said Ms O'Brien's extensive experience would be "enormously beneficial" to the hospice as it continues to develop and expand its services.

"An overarching objective of ours is that no child should live further than two hours away from a palliative care service, and we're confident that Orla can help LauraLynn play a critical role in reaching this target."