The action group fighting for St. Vincent’s Hospital, Athy, has promised to intensify efforts to keep it open.
Meanwhile Kildare County Council yesterday (Monday) has called on the HSE for clear statement about the future of the facility.
Only about 50 people turned up at a public meeting on Thursday night last following claims that a ward at the hospital is set to close.
At the same time the Health Service Executive moved to allay fears about the future of the hospital.
The HSE came under heavy fire at the meeting, which followed comments emanating from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation – which represents nurses at the facility – that a 24-bed ward could be set for closure.
There are a total of 128 beds at the hospital including specialist beds. The number of regular geriatric beds stands at 103 – about a third of the capacity at the hospital in 1976.
James Mahon, chairman of the action group, told the meeting that it was unfair that patients heard of a possible ward closure on radio.
“It is a worry that we still don’t know the full story of the future of the hospital. A lot of people call it home and feel safe and secure there,” Mr. Mahon said.
He said it is imperative that “normal geriatric beds” be retained at the hospital as well as accommodation for patients diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.
However, according to the HSE services are to be expanded and a meeting with staff has taken place. The changes include an expansion of the number of beds for specialised dementia care, a reconfiguration of long stay beds and a potential expansion of day care services.
“The current bed complement in the hospital is 128. As part of this process the total number of beds in the hospital will fall over time to 120 as this is the number of beds that the Health Information and Quality Authority will register the hospital for,” the statement added.