Dr. James McDaid is among the well-known Donegal figures who have given their support to the campaign by Donegal mothers to secure services closer to home for Donegal children with serious medical needs.
Gina Grant and Mary Louise Crossan of Letterkenny, Ashling Nibbs of Trentagh, Brenda McGeehan of Fintown, Sharon Thompson of Moville and Fiona Rodgers from Arranmore Island will meet Leo Varadkar, minister for health, in Dublin on February 4th to raise their concerns.
Dr. McDaid said he could not understand why very young children, treated for emergencies in Letterkenny, are then transferred all the way to Dublin’s Temple Street. “I can’t understand why they can’t be treated in either Altnagelvin or Enniskillen,” he said. “The services are there.”
Gina Grant heard from a number of Donegal parents who regularly bring their children to Dublin for treatment, despite being geographically closer to hospitals in the north. Some bring their children to London’s Great Ormond Street.
“Basically, the outcome is they feel alone,” Gina said of the parents. She said counselling and respite services should be offered locally as well as medical services.
“A mum said, ‘If there was somewhere we could go where our children wouldn’t be stared at, where we could talk comfortably and relax,’” Gina said. “A relaxed environment, where your child is going to be okay.”
Dr. McDaid said Donegal Hospice would be willing to facilitate services by training palliative care paediatric nurses. He said the hospice had also offered to provide capital funding toward the community hospital planned for a site near Letterkenny General Hospital, if the hospice would be able to acquire 10-15 beds in that facility. Some of those beds could be used as respite beds for children, he said.
“We do need a facility somewhere to be able to allow these kids to have respite care,” Dr. McDaid said.
Dr. McDaid said if treatment rooms were made available, the palliative paediatric nurses were trained and the minister provided a travelling consultant to come to Donegal on a monthly basis, “then the children would be able to be looked after within the borders of Donegal”.
The hospice chairperson said he was also looking for a philanthropist who might want to take on the project. “I know there is someone out there who would love to be doing something for the children of Donegal,” he said.