Deputy Connolly said the ongoing closure of the day-centre in Áras Mhic Dara, Carraroe is unacceptable. The day-centre closed on the 5th of March and over a month later remains closed.
This is a centre in the heart of the Gaeltacht which provides an essential service to people aged 70-98. Up to March 5th this year it was open 5 days a week between the hours of 9am and 4pm catering for approximately 12 people per day, some of whom travel by minibus and others by car.
Deputy Connolly has repeatedly contacted the HSE for an explanation as to why the centre remains closed and has, to date, not received a satisfactory response. Deputy Connolly said that there is an onus on the Health Board to clarify this situation as a matter of urgency. The absence of replacement staff is not a problem that happened overnight yet it would appear that there is no plan in place to deal with such a contingency.
In addition, the day-centre is located in a public nursing home where 15 out of a total of 47 beds remain empty for an extraordinary length of time. Deputy Connolly said how any management could stand over 15 empty beds while the hospital is at breaking point is simply disgraceful.
The Health Executive West’s constant refrain of lack of staff as a reason for the empty beds has to change and the Health Executive needs to look at a more effective way of advertising locally, including offering enhanced packages that might be made available to attract nurses to work through the medium of Irish. Indeed, the Health Executive end up relying on nurses supplied by a private company, for whom finding nurses does not appear to be a problem, at a much higher cost.
As a result of ongoing pressure, it has now been confirmed that the centre is to open on a limited basis for three days each week. While welcoming this news Deputy Connolly said it is imperative that the centre resumes full service and that an effective local nursing recruitment campaign is initiated without delay.
In this regard Deputy Connolly will be raising this serious matter with the Minister for Health.