Dr. James Reilly, minister for health, confirmed yesterday that the new medical block at Letterkenny General Hospital, which will include an accident and emergency unit and several wards, will open in September.
Dr. Reilly was in Donegal to open a new primary care centre in Glenties and a new extension to Dungloe Community Hospital.
The 1.7 million euro centre in Glenties will feature a local GP practice along with a range of Health Service Executive professionals. The building is not yet furnished, but John Hayes, HSE area manager for Donegal, said that will happen in the coming weeks and the centre should be functioning in July.
The centre will include the GP practice of Dr. Michael Cooke and locum GP, Dr. Cormac McPolin. Dr. Cooke took the minister through the building, and described the services that will be in place once the centre is equipped and running.
Speaking at the opening, Dr. Cooke thanked the community care teams, saying, “These people have set a landmark of treatment and care.”
Donegal has long been a leader in providing primary care and community health services, Dr. Reilly said. He said 95 percent of health care can be provided locally.
“This is where your treatment should start,” the minister told the gathering of local people at the opening. Projects like the centre in Glenties “is about joining all the dots”, he said.
A centre where care professionals in a number of areas are based and working together, “will improve outcomes for you without a shadow of a doubt,” the minister said.
Jim Doherty, HSE Primary care development officer, said the centre will result in more local assessment and treatment. He said the development of primary care teams is a key element of a national plan for developing community-based services. The Glenties centre, he said, “is one stage of a process.”
The staff at the Glenties centre will also include public health nurses, dieticians, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, dental surgeons, dental hygienists, speech and language therapists, chirdopodists, addiction counselors and administration staff.
Dinny McGinley, minister of state for the Gaeltacht, accompanied Dr. Reilly in Donegal yesterday and Pat “the Cope” Gallagher, Fianna Fáil MEP, and independent Cllr. Terence Slowey were at the Glenties centre to greet the minister when he arrived.
“This is a fantastic development,” Cllr. Slowey said later, adding that the local community “really fought for it for a long time.”