THE HSE said the current premises of St Brigid’s hospital, which serves parts of Waterford, Tipperary and Kilkenny, are “not conducive” to support the level of refurbishment required to resume short stay inpatient services.
It would require the “demolition” of existing premises of St Brigid’s Hospital and “a complete new build on a very tight site, with a need to raise floor levels by approximately 1 metre” to resume short stay inpatient services, according to documents seen by the Waterford News and Star. The HSE Estates and Technical services said this was “not a viable option”.
The hospital services, which served some parts of Waterford, stopped earlier this year when it was designated as a step-down unit for Covid-19 patients. The short stay unit had 16 beds, including three palliative, two respite and 11 convalescent beds.
Correspondence released to this newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act showed that several politicians had queried the plans for the hospital, including Waterford TD and Minister for Older People Mary Butler, as well as several other TDs in the South East.
The HSE told Mary Butler that in terms of future developments, it is planned to develop a 50-bed replacement of St Anthony’s Unit in Clonmel with building expected to be completed in 2023.
South East Community Healthcare (SECH) is in discussions with the South Tipperary Hospice and in the interim will provide two additional palliative care beds in the existing unit. SECH will also, if required, provide palliative care beds in private nursing homes in the Carrick-on-Suir area, the HSE said.
The HSE said the SECH intends to “reconfigure St Brigid’s into a Community Health Centre” with a “focus on the creation of a central hub for diabetes management in the community”.
“Substantial refurbishment” is required in order to resume short stay services at St Brigid’s Hospital “in line with safer, better, healthcare and infection, prevention and control standards,” the HSE told Mary Butler.
Last month, Cllr Liam Brazil described the closure of St Brigid’s as having dealt a “severe blow” to residents of Waterford. The closure of the hospital is a “huge loss” to the people in Carrick and all surrounding areas, including Portlaw, Waterford, South Kilkenny and Clonmel, he said.
Other Tds, who received responses from the HSE in correspondence seen by the Waterford News and Star, include Martin Brown, Alan Kelly, Roisin Shorthall, Jackie Cahill, Mattie McGrath and Michael Lawry, as well as some local councillors.
No funding or donations have been collected since March 2020 for St Brigid’s and palliative care. The HSE noted that those in areas, which previously used St Brigid’s Hospital and who require convalescent, respite or palliative care services, are “being supported in alternative settings in the South Tipperary area” including the HSE’s St Theresa’s Hospital Clogheen and HSE Cluain Arann in Tipperary town.