Minister gives thumbs up to Hospice funding: O"Rourke

Health Minister Mary Harney has given the thumbs up for funding to staff the South Westmeath Hospice in Athlone, according to Deputy Mary O"Rourke. Deputy O"Rourke said this week Minister Harney had told her she would ensure the money was made available to staff the new unit, which was built thanks to the fund-raising efforts of the local committee. Minister Harney also told Deputy O"Rourke she planned to write to the South Westmeath Hospice committee herself. She also commended Deputy O"Rourke and Senator Nicky McFadden for taking a united front on the issue and for working together to ensure the funding was made available. Deputy O"Rourke said she was delighted to report that the Minister would be in touch with the committee with good news. Concerns were raised last month that the HSE would not be in a position to fund staff for the new hospice, as had been the original agreement with the fund-raising committee. The new hospice building on the campus of St Vincent"s Hospital in Athlone was completed just before Christmas and is currently in the process of being kitted out. The fund-raising committee behind the project has raised some €1.25m for the project, with a further half a million euro required to kit the building out. The committee began fund-raising in 2007 to provide a new, purpose-built four-bed unit to be constructed at St Vincent"s, staffing costs for which were to be met by the HSE.