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A NEW six-bed palliative care unit is to open shortly in St Luke’s Hospital in Kilkenny.

Palliative care patients in Kilkenny and Carlow, and their families, will benefit from the facility which is set to open within weeks.

The Susie Long Hospice Fund (SLHF) will cover the costs of specialist beds and mattresses in the six-bed unit to an approximate value of €50,000. An overnight family room for relatives of palliative care patients will also be provided. The SLHF will pay for the conversion of this space, which will provide a kitchen, lounge and sleeping facilities.

Management at St Luke’s are committed to providing a 12-bed satellite in patient palliative care unit (hospice) in the development of Phase 2 of the hospital. The SLHF will contribute to the cost of the design of this building and has been invited to join the design team. However, while we await the completion of this project, hospital rooms will be upgraded to accommodate these specialist beds in the coming weeks.

Commenting on the development, Clinical Director at St Luke’s Hospital Dr Garry Courtney said: “This unit will be of a huge benefit to palliative care patients.”

Chairman of the SLHF Tommy Roche also welcomed the move which he described as “an exciting step forward” for palliative care patients. “The Susie Long Hospice Fund is delighted to be able to fund the new facility. It will ensure a better experience for palliative care patients and their families from Kilkenny and Carlow.”

He added: “The Susie Long Hospice Fund continues to work closely with management at St Luke’s to ensure the 12-bed in patient palliative care unit (hospice) proceeds as soon as possible. We have an excellent working relationship with the hospital management and we look forward to seeing this project come to fruition.”

The new facility will include four single rooms and one double room. The SLHF is covering the costs of upgrading the rooms and has also agreed to consider any further requests for specialist equipment or items on a case by case basis. 

Press statement by the family of Susie Long regarding the announcement today by the Susie Long Hospice Fund of the imminent 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,
Áine Nic Liam,
Fergus Mac Liam.

The Susie Long Hospice Fund was set up in October 2007 to provide the highest possible quality of end-of-life care for patients and their families through the establishment of a 12-bed hospice in Kilkenny, for the people of Kilkenny and Carlow. 
The Fund plans to meet this challenge through fundraising, increasing awareness of the need and benefits of local hospice care and by lobbying Government for support. 
Donations can be made directly to the fund at
AIB, High St, Kilkenny,
Account No: 3462705,
Sort code: 93-31-98. 
The Susie Long Hospice Fund is a registered charity, number CHY17950
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