A DECISION is due this week on plans to build a large new extension to St Ita’s hospital in Newcastle West, which would see up to 20 new beds made available.
An application for a €1.2 million, 797 square metre rehabilitation ward at the community hospital in Gortboy was lodged with Limerick County Council in July. The project, if it is approved, will see a welcome upgrade to the existing rehabilitation and day hospital services, and would create dozens of new jobs during the construction phase.
More than half of the funding for the extension has been provided by the JP McManus 2010 Pro-Am fund, with the balance coming from local fund raising from the Friends of St Ita’s community group.
Fergus Scanlan, chairman of the Friends of St Ita’s, said that the extension is required to replace the existing rehabilitation ward, which was opened in 1989.
“It’s going to be a huge plus for West Limerick. St Ita’s is back on track, and things are looking positive. It’s good to have a good news story, with all that’s been going on. We’ll be delighted if it gets the go-ahead, needless to say.”
The extension will be built on to the existing day hospital, and will require works to be carried out on the main building at St Ita’s, which was built in 1841 and is a protected structure.
The new ward will be an in-patient unit providing rehabilitation care, medical assessment, nursing and other medical supports.
Mr Scanlan said that the extension will not require any increase in the numbers of staff working at the hospital, unlike the multi-million euro palliative care unit which was built with €1.2 million in charitable donations, but has only been open to day patients since October 2009 due to the HSE recruitment embargo.
“It’ll be a new rehab unit for people on first-off recovery after hip replacements and other procedures like that. It’ll be creating more room”, Mr Scanlan said. “The main thing is there’ll be no revenue implications or questions about staff, so it’ll be put into use as soon as it’s finished. We’re delighted with how it’s looking.”
A total of €750,000 was donated to the project out of the JP McManus Pro-Am fund. Mr Scanlan said that the Pro-Am contribution to the extension “really put it on track”.
The extension has been designed by O’Connell Mahon architects in Dublin. Included in the submission is a letter from the HSE, which said that the proposed development “would be of great benefit” to St Ita’s.