Six state-of-the-art palliative care beds financed by the Susie Long Hospice Fund will be officially opened in St Luke's Hospital General Hospital for Carlow-Kilkenny on Friday (October 10th, 2014).
Minister of State Ann Phelan will unveil the new beds, equipment and furnishings which were funded by the group set up in memory of the late Susie Long.
Susie died of bowel cancer on October 12th, 2007, aged 41 but not before she exposed the failings of a two-tier healthcare system. Susie's husband, Conor Mac Liam, and their two children Áine and Fergus, have welcomed the new facilities at St Luke's.
The Susie Long Hospice Fund (SLHF) allocated €50,000 for the new specialist beds, equipment and furnishings in St Luke's.
Chairman of the SLHF Fund Tommy Roche said the group is "delighted to provide support to palliative care patients" in the hospital. "We will also be funding a family area very soon. These measures will add to the excellent care already provided by management and staff at the hospital."
He added: "It is thanks to the generosity of the people who donated to the Susie Long Hospice Fund that palliative care patients will now see real benefits. We look forward to the day when we return to St Luke's to open the permanent 12-bed hospice."
The SLHF has raised over €688,000 to date and continues to raise awareness of the need for hospice care for patients throughout the country. The group has been working closely with General Manager of St Luke's Hospital Anne Slattery and Clinical Director of the hospital Dr Garry Courtney in recent months to secure the new beds.
"We would like to extend our thanks to the management and all of the staff at St Luke's for their ongoing commitment to palliative care patients in Carlow and Kilkenny," said Mr Roche.A ceremony to mark the official opening of the new beds will be attended by Minister of State Ann Phelan, members of the SLHF, and management at St Luke's in the Education Centre, Administration Building, on Friday (October 10th, 2014, at 11 am).
Press statement by the family of Susie Long regarding the announcement earlier in the year by the Susie Long Hospice Fund of the opening a six-bed palliative care unit in St. Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny.
“Today is an emotional day for us, as the promise of a hospice for Kilkenny begins to turn into a reality. We are delighted that progress is now being made in bringing this vital service to the people in our community who are terminally ill and their families also. Susie had to travel to a hospice in Dublin, and we were lucky to able to stay with family there to be with her in her final days. We hope this development in St. Luke’s will help remove the turmoil many patients and the families go through, and bring some of the peace and calm that Susie and we experienced in Our Lady’s Hospice in Harold’s Cross in Dublin. Hospice care allowed Susie to emerge from pain and uncertainty, to become her full self again and allowed her to speak out on behalf of those who were not receiving the care and treatment they deserved. A full hospice service network must be put in place right across Ireland; the terminally ill in every county deserve it, and they cannot wait.
“The process to get to this point has been a long and arduous one. In 2008, a year after Susie passed, we saw funding which was supposed to be ring-fenced for palliative care, left unspent in the South-East and simply being reabsorbed into the general HSE budget. In 2009 we saw the publication of the HSE’s five year plan for priority projects for palliative care, including the target of completing a hospice in Kilkenny by 2013. This deadline was allowed to pass without official explanation last year. All this time the Susie Long Hospice Fund (SLHF) has lobbied and raised money for such a hospice. So it is with great relief and hope that we receive this announcement today. We would like to acknowledge the trojan work done by the SLHF committee over the years and particularly the work of our chairman Tommy Roche and the clinical director of St. Luke’s, Garry Courtney. We look forward to opening of this interim 6-bed unit palliative care unit shortly and believe that pressure must now be maintained to build the permanent 12-bed hospice as soon as possible.”
Conor Mac Liam,
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