This decision has been made without any consultation with parents of sick children.So we have a situation were our Government is determined to build a hospital on a site that the majority of parents are totally opposed to.
The frustration is that there are at least 2 alternative sites, The Coombe & Blanchardstown that are far superior. Blanchardstown has enough land to build not only a Children’s Hospital but also a much needed modern Maternity Hospital & lies beside the M50. The land is State owned and the cost of a Children’s Hospital on that site will cost €500M (approx.) as opposed to St James at €650M.
A chance encounter with ‘An Taoiseach’
“On Monday the 28 of July 2014 I was leaning over the edge of my 10 month old son’s cot in St Bernadette’s paediatrics UCHG trying to get a smile out of him. He had taken on a virus and was being monitored for a few days until his levels came right again. As well as having his day to day ongoing issues of low muscle tone and seizure activity this was another hit for him but being the type of character he is we knew that he would pull through this in a couple of days.
A knock came to the door of the room and a hospital security guard popped his head in and requested that I move my van from where I had parked it when I got the chance. As parking is an issue at UCHG and for that matter most hospitals in the country I grunted at him as to why today was different as usually they are very lenient on where people park due to these issues, to which he said,
‘I know, but the Taoiseach is about to arrive’
Since our Son took ill in November I have seen firsthand the conditions of the medical service available to children in this country which in word are appalling. I have learned of the plan of the current standing government to build a ‘World Class’ Children’s hospital in the City Centre St James hospital site and more importantly have learned the plight of the various Children’s/Parents foundations to have this Hospital built somewhere that it actually works. Blancardstown.
I saw now that this was my opportunity to voice an opinion that is by far that of the majority of the people that will use this new ‘World Class hospital’ which in turn will be the opinion of those generations to follow behind.
I stood at the corridor of the ward looking out the double doors to the entrance as An Taoiseach arrived to the smell of fresh paint and framed by 2 new plant boxes to colour off the occasion. He was greeted by local business big wigs and Fine Gael Councillors, hospital officials and PR gurus. They chatted briefly outside the door at which point I made the decision that I was going to let the occasion run as it was planned, say my piece at the appropriate moment and then let it continue. I was glad to see any media make its way down the corridor ahead of the group as I knew that then I would be able to get a genuine reaction from the man himself once I put to him what I had to say. The group made their way through the entrance corridor to where I was standing and they were now joined by a group of nurses bringing the number up to about 15/16 individuals. The Taoiseach was at this stage asked to disinfect his hands which he did and it was then that I said to him.
‘Excuse me Taoiseach, Father of a sick child here at the hospital can I have a quick word’
The group fell silent and he agreed that this was ok and so I continued
‘Taoiseach. On behalf of the children in the beds of this hospital and all the other hospitals across the country, on behalf of all their parents, on behalf of the consultants, doctors, nurses that work with these children I would like to make the point that the current plan to build the ‘New Children’s hospital’ on the James hospital site is a farce of a situation and should not be allowed to go ahead when there is a far superior site in Blancardstown that will get the maximum benefit of the tax funds that are about to be spent to do so. We Taoiseach, as the adults of this country with all our greed as a whole have created what can only be described as a mess of a nation to hand down to the generations that are to follow. The very least we can do for them is to build a Children’s hospital in a location that will indeed make it the very best that this country can build and give your government and we the Irish people a true legacy to be proud of for decades to come’
His Reaction was this:
Who was I to come at him as he entered the hospital making demands to change plans that were already in stone and signed off on. He seemed a little disgusted at my approach and what I had to say to the point of, how dare I??
I then insisted that I had every right and that the government were well able to intervene in things when it seemed to matter to the masses like ‘Country and Western’ stars coming to town to sing a few songs and that possibly the government should get their priorities right especially when it comes to the ever continuing mess that is the medical services to the youth of our country’
Seeming keen to move on now he assured me that a
‘World class hospital was going to be built. It has been designed by Top engineers and it will be something to be proud of for a thousand years in this country’
Not wanting to delay the occasion too much I left it at this final word.
‘Taoiseach, the people that will be on the front line of these hospitals are telling you otherwise. They have not been consulted and essentially are being ignored. You are about to build it in the wrong place and this needs to be changed. I’ll leave it at that and hope you enjoy your stay in Galway’
At his stage I walked back to my child’s room to steady my nerves and settle my anger that was developing due to his attitude to the whole thing and my approach. I later learned that his press office said that ‘the opening of the CF unit was soured by a protestor’. Anybody else present I’m sure will tell you different and I couldn’t but get the impression that majority of people looking on agreed with what I had to say but were just too nervous to speak up.
Gathering my thoughts back in the room I pondered as to what I had gotten from the encounter. I thought on what was actually said to me and couldn’t get the words of ‘Top engineers’ out if my head. The past 20 years of top engineered government funded projects skipped through my mind and my conclusion was this. We as nation again are about to take a back seat and let the government spend hundreds of millions of our rare, hard earned, euro’s on a project that will somewhat do the job that it’s supposed to do not really to the full potential that its capable of doing. We have seen this before. We have fabulous Port Tunnel don’t we? A Port Tunnel designed by ‘Top Engineers’ and signed off by the government proclaiming that it was ‘World Class’. Shame really then it cannot take the largest trucks that travel the roads of mainland Europe on a daily basis. What else? Well we have a multi million euro ‘World Class’ electronic voting system which I’m pretty sure would have been signed off by ‘Top Engineers’ and of course signed off on by the leaders of the country. They were so good that they never even left the warehouse they are being stored in, and costed us further millions to store.
So here we go again. History is about to repeat itself. Whilst I will agree somewhat with the Taoiseach in that I’m sure it will be ‘World class’ it will be in the wrong place having no consideration for those who will use it most. It will be like building a world class bus station at the top of the Dublin mountains. It will work but it makes no sense putting it there.
So if this is first you are reading of this situation here are the obvious problems without even knowing the facts. In both locations the buildings buildings will be top class and have all the necessary equipment to meet the needs of the patients but that is where the similarities end. James will cause these problems for the start:
• Lack of parking for the staff and patients
• Little if any room for expansion in the future
• Access is difficult to the patients staff and emergency services. (Traffic)
• Traffic. Itself worsened during the build due to the coming and going of construction vehicles
• High crime rate in the surrounding area. Dangerous for those not familiar with the area
• Not all services and care under the one roof
• No onsite training school for Doctors, carers and staff
• Greenbelts and outside recreation areas are little to none and views from rooms are limited
These are only the blatantly obvious reasons not to build at St James before we even look below the surface to the plans themselves. Coming from a parent who has unfortunately had to make the trip to Temple Street on many occasions I can safely tell you that we have enough to worry about without having to even consider any of the above when bringing a sick child to hospital. I can also tell you that when we are sitting across the table for consultants, who without doubt are top of their league, you just know that they themselves don’t need any of this extra hassle either and they would rather be concentrating their great minds on helping those who need it.
We as a nation will have the opportunity to take to the polls to voice our opinions on abortion over the coming years as it may affect us and those who follow behind us in some way, at some stage. We will take to the polls to vote on same sex marriage as it too may affect us, our family members and those following behind us in some way. But this will affect each and every one of us and we are not to be allowed to make a decision as a nation on where it will be built. We have the opportunity now to do something right for the generation following behind. To do something to make up for all the damage we have done to the country we are to leave to them and this is it.
Contact your local councillor and pen a letter to the Department of the Taoiseach expressing your views.
Keith Kissane, Galway”