Frantic talks, rumours and then a quick re-opening
After a week of further controversy and uncertainty about its future, St. Joseph’s Mental Health Day Centre in Ballaghaderreen was re-opened by an under-fire HSE yesterday (Wednesday).
When the centre closed on April 4th last, it was claimed that the closure was a temporary one – and, while the HSE has been good to its word, there was frantic to-ing and fro-ing in recent days, with Senator Maura Hopkins initially claiming that the centre would not be re-opening, and both Senator Hopkins and Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice firing angry broadsides in the direction of the HSE.
On Tuesday, the HSE moved to assure the public that the centre would re-open on Wednesday. It remains to be seen if its long-term future is secure.
The latest series of twists in the saga peaked over the weekend with Senator Hopkins saying she had been told by a number of individuals that management had told them that the centre would be remaining closed. Expressing deep anger, Senator Hopkins accused the HSE of misleading local politicians and called for an immediate meeting with Tony Canavan, Head of Community Care in Roscommon.
Responding to the reports of a permanent closure, Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice issued a very strong statement in criticism of the HSE.
On Tuesday, the HSE moved to clarify the position.
The HSE said that a preliminary health and safety inspection of the premises was conducted during the temporary closure. Several concerns were raised, including the lack of fire detectors.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors were installed on Tuesday.
The HSE said: “An estimate of remedial works is currently being drawn up. It will then be reviewed by the HSE head of service for mental health.”
The reference to a ‘review’ has been noted by Deputy Fitzmaurice, who warns that he remains unconvinced about the long-term status of the facility.
Re-opening the facility yesterday (Wednesday), the HSE have thanked service users and their families for their patience and support – and apologised for any inconvenience caused.
Senator Hopkins met with Mr. Tony Canavan on Tuesday. She said that Mr. Canavan made it clear that the closure of St. Joseph’s Mental Health Day Centre was temporary. She told him that people need confidence and certainty in their local mental health services.
“This confidence and certainty has been eroded with the miscommunication being given over the past number of days. This is not good enough” the Fine Gael Senator said.
Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice welcomed news of the re-opening but said he still has grave doubts about the future of the facility.
He has called on the HSE and Minister Helen McEntee to give categoric guarantees on the future of the facility.