Letterkenny General Hospital’s emergency department is expected to open in March following the flooding which closed it in July.
Work on the rebuild and restoration of services began this month. The rebuild itself is expected to cost 15m euro with the same amount again to be spent on equipment and the costs of providing alternative services.
A short term outpatients facility in Letterkenny town centre is due to open in early December. All clinics being held off site at present will be brought to the new facility in the McGinley’s building at Justice Walsh Road. Speaking at a press briefing on the restoration work at the hospital, General Manager Sean Murphy said the hospital will have an option on the facility at Justice Walsh Road for two years.
He said the new facility will allow the hospital to address some of the restraints in outpatients. The hospital is looking at opportunities to change the outpatients department and “give the facilities this community needs”. “The issue here is whether there is an option to do something better, significantly better, on site. My view is that there are options and we want to explore those,” he said.
Part of the costs of the restoration is the cost of treating patients as the work goes on. The number of people working on the site will increase in the next number of weeks to over 50 and will increase to more than 100. “This is going to be a huge building site. The local community from day one, from the night people came into help sweep out water, there has been huge sympathy and support for the staff here and the hospital,” he said.
“There is probably another six to nine months of massive disruption. The prize is not just reinstating what we had but actually a really class and quality hospital for this county.”
He said increased measures have been put in place at the culvert which was the source of the flood to mitigate the chances of more flooding, including CCTV cameras and floodlights. The hospital has also applied for planning permission to Letterkenny Town Council for an engineering solution.
Mr Murphy said the hospital will be providing a new interventional radiology suite which will allow the hospital to give treatments to patients that previously would have been carried out in Dublin or Galway. “So we will be putting in a better facility than we had,” he said.
Mr. Murphy said the flooding has put “significant pressure on a number of services in terms of reduced capacity”. The hospital has been dealing with this by proving additional services out-sourcing treatments to other hospitals. He said management is looking at using the restoration of services as an opportunity to improve services long term. “If anything good comes out of the flood it will be that.”