Hospice's running costs are covered
Department to make over €3m per year available to run 15-bed facility, writes Myles Buchanan
Wicklow Hospice has moved a step closer to reality after the Department of Health confirmed the long-term funding for the operation of the 15-bed facility.
The announcement was made on Wednesday morning at Hunters Hotel in Rathnew.
Approval for the commencement of the project was granted by HSE Senior Management Team last December. Written confirmation of this decision was received from the Department of Health on January 25, stating that long-term funding of over €3 million per annum will be made available to run the facility from 2018, when the building is expected to be completed.
Dr Brendan Cuddihy, Chairman of Wicklow Hospice Foundation, said the tender process for establishment of a new specialist impatient unit at Magheramore would start immediately.
'This is an auspicious day for Wicklow Hospice and Wicklow. We enjoyed cross-party support across the county right from the very start. It has been a long and arduous journey and I have to thank the people of Wicklow for getting us here and our fundraisers for getting us to this point.'
Minister Simon Harris described the hospice project as 'one close to my heart' and said there would be 'no turning back now.'
'This really is a significant milestone. It is another step toward the dream and aspiration to have a hospice for Wicklow where people can die with dignity in their community.
'I am very pleased that the funding agreed earlier this year, has allowed the Wicklow Hospice Foundation to move forward to tender stage. I look forward to working closely with the Wicklow Hospice Foundation to make this a reality for Wicklow."
He added, 'no matter what happens in the Government corridors, you have cross-party support right across all the political parties.
'There is no turning back now. The committee faced a number of issues and it can be difficult to fundraise in such difficult economic times and their efforts must be applauded. Congratulations on a very significant day.'
It is envisaged that the completed hospice would officially open near the end of 2018. Our Lady's Hospice of Harold's Cross will operate the hospice.
'We are delighted to have an operator of that status alongside us,' said Dr Cuddihy.
The economic downturn combined with the decision to extend the original 12-bed facility to a 15-bed facility to cater for the people of County Wicklow and north Wexford, means the Wicklow Hospice Foundation will be required to raise the balance of the capital building costs.
However, the foundation said the final fundraising requirements will not delay the building process. A major corporate fundraising programme has already been launched along with the Worldwide Ireland Funds.
Kieran McLoughlin, President and CEO of the Worldwide Ireland Funds couldn't attend Wednesday's announcement but sent on a message outlining his continued support for the project.
'We are delighted that the Government has made this commitment to the sustainability of the Wicklow Hospice. This makes this a true Public Philanthropic Partnership.
'The philanthropy of the people of Wicklow and friends abroad will provide for the centre at no cost to the State. The State will then run it for the benefit of the people of Wicklow proving that, when philanthropists and the State work hand in hand, both are stronger.'
Magheramore at Brittas Bay is the confirmed site for the facility after the Columban Sisters donated land to the Wicklow Hospice Foundation Committee.
Chair of Fundraising Wicklow Hospice Foundation Evanne Cahill said the foundation will continue to run charity events along with hospice volunteers so that the final fundraising burden won't solely rest on the shoulders of the Wicklow public.
'Since the Wicklow Hospice Foundation was founded in 2009, in excess of €3 million has been raised by the people of Wicklow towards the costs of building the facility.
'The people of Wicklow have been tremendous and whilst we will continue to seek their support in raising the balance of the capital funds, we are confident that our philanthropic partnerships and corporate fundraising programmes will ensure the lion's share of the burden does not fall on the people of County Wicklow.'
A member of staff will be available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the hospice office to assist any fundraisers taking place.
'Sinead will be there behind you, helping organise the posters and arranging volunteers and publicity for the events. We have to raise some more money, that's a given, but we aren't afraid of that because of the levels of support the people of Wicklow have shown us. The people of Wicklow, thankfully, came along with us every step of the way.'
Dr Cuddihy also praised the efforts of various volunteers over the past number of years who helped to raise €3 million so far.
'I think at this stage Bill Porter has asked everyone in Wicklow to take part in at least one marathon. That's quite appropriate. This is a marathon, not a sprint. We ran against some strong head winds with the economic crash. We hit a few walls as well but now we are on the final lap around the stadium.'
The building tender process is expected to take approximately six months, after which the tender will be awarded and the building will commence.
The site already has full planning permission.
'The people of Wicklow have made this happen - they put their hearts and souls into the Magheramore Hospice facility as too many of them had seen close family die in acute hospitals and denied access to inpatient specialist hospice care in their own community. This is a landmark day for County Wicklow,' said Dr Cuddihy.