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Speech for Minister Lenihan at the official opening of the new hospital development at James Connolly Memorial Hospital, Blanchardstown

Published: 20 January 2005
From: Department of Health and Minister for Health

I am delighted to be with you today to officially open the new hospital development here at the James Connolly Memorial Hospital. I am confident that the new facilities here at the hospital will radically improve the quality of service and infrastructure for patients and staff both in the immediate future and in the years to come.

Building work on the site commenced in October 2000 and a phased opening of this new facility began when the Coronary Care and Cardiac Unit, Therapeutic Psychiatry of Old Age Unit, Day Hospital and the Rheumatology Service transferred into this new building in September 2003.

The transfer of services continued when in September of last year my department approved funding of €10.7million for the commissioning of further services to the new wing of the hospital including the – New Surgical Block, The Accident and Emergency Department and the Critical Care Unit and Operating Theatres, all of which transferred to the new development in the later months of 2004.

Accident and Emergency Services

The new A&E Department here is a state-of-the-art facility incorporating a six-bed Chest Pain Assessment Unit and Observation Area, a three-bed Resuscitation Unit and a Minor Injuries Area in line with recent trends in emergency medicine. Other facilities include a plastering bay for orthopaedic injuries, an eye injury room with specialist eye equipment, an ENT room, ultra sound facilities and a procedures room for suturing. The department also houses a Relatives Room.

Already since the new A&E Department opened here there has been an increase in activity of 8% and it is projected that this could grow to as much as 20% this year resulting in an increase in the number of new attendances at the department from 30,000 to 36,000.

The Emergency Department here now has the lowest waiting time in the Eastern Region and its core team of dedicated doctors and nurses is supported by the work of Advanced Nurse Practitioners, Patient Liaison Officers and local general practitioners who attend on a regular basis.

Operating Theatres

The hospital will now also have a new Theatre Suite with two additional theatres bringing the total number to five. These include a specialist clean air Orthopaedic Theatre with state-of-the-art facilities.

Intensive Care

The addition now of a fifth bed in the Intensive Care Unit and the addition of an extra bed in Coronary Care as well as the provision of 20 extra day beds at the Cherry Ward is good news for patients and will result in greater numbers receiving treatment and care.

This hospital is also well known for it’s care of the elderly services and the progressive day hospital operates a rapid access service helping to reduce admissions to the Emergency Department.

The following additional facilities are now also provided at the hospital

  • new concourse/reception area
  • oratory
  • cafeteria
  • shops
  • future Developments

When fully commissioned the new wing will also include:

  • 10 additional day beds in the Day Surgery Unit bringing the total number of day beds to 24;

A High Dependency Unit which will ensure the optimum use of ICU beds and improve the potential for elective admissions

  • the refurbishment of surgical blocks A, B and C. that will house a 28-bed acute geriatric ward, a 28-bed rehabilitation service for older persons and a Day Hospital.

The provision of a High Dependency Unit will ensure the optimum use of ICU beds and improve the potential for elective admissions

I am also looking forward to the opening of the new Acute Psychiatric Unit here. This is a 56-bed unit comprising 44 acute psychiatric beds, six high observation beds and six psychiatry of old age beds. I welcome the full integration of psychiatry alongside all of the other important specialties operating in the hospital.

Respiratory Pilot Project

Phased implementation of a major Respiratory Pilot Project at JCMH project was approved in July 2004.

This is a major development for James Connolly Memorial Hospital and will see it become a center of excellence for the provision of respiratory care. The project will ensure that respiratory patients are seen quicker, that there will be a reduction in the average length of stay, that there will be improved liaison with GP’s, and that all respiratory patients will be under the care of respiratory consultants.

Staff And Management

I would like to pay tribute today to the staff and management of this hospital who ensured that an excellent acute service continued to be provided here during four years of building and construction. Thank you for your efforts and your dedication throughout this transitionary period and I hope that you will enjoy and benefit from working in the new facilities here at the hospital.

James Connolly Memorial Hospital has a dedicated staff of over 1,000 people providing acute medical and surgical services to the ever-growing catchment area of Dublin North West, North Kildare and South County Meath. Accident and Emergency services are provided here on a 365 day 24 hour.

The opening of this new hospital development will be of great benefit to the local community both in terms of the services that it provides and also with regards to employment opportunities that it will offer. A total of 145 additional full-time posts have been approved and the extra numbers working here will be of benefit to the local economy. Some 32 of these new posts have already been filled.

The improved physical infrastructure here and new ways of working will also assist the hospital in attracting the brightest and the best to come and work at what is now generally recognised as one of Dublin’s best Major Teaching Hospitals.

During 2004 activity levels at the hospital rose by the following percentages:

  • accident and emergency department activity (Uup 8%)
  • admissions (up 17%)
  • major operations (up 31.3%)
  • minor operations (up 48%)
  • day ward surgery (up 130%)
  • out-patient department activity (up 18.3%)

These figures are a great tribute to the hard work of all the staff here at the hospital.

Strategic plan

As many of you will be aware this hospital is currently in the process of developing a Strategic Plan in relation to the services it provides and will provide into the future. The process included an analysis of the hospital activity, available capacity, waiting lists, facilities, and population growth.

The plan will provide a strategic focus for the future direction of the Hospital and will be circulated to external stakeholders next month as part of a wide consultation process involving community groups, local public representatives, staff, GPs and neighbouring hospitals. I look forward to being involved in discussions with you in the future regarding this strategic plan and with regards to the future development of this hospital.

Naming of Hospital

I am aware that there has been much debate and consideration locally regarding the matter of the name of this hospital.

I believe that as we launch the new development at the hospital here today that we are witnessing the beginning of a new era for this hospital.

We have a complete new hospital building which enables us to move forward into a new era of service delivery. We also have new ways of working and new approaches to caring for our patients. The hospital here today is almost unrecognisable to that which was opened in 1955 as a Specialist Chest Hospital for the treatment of patients with Tuberculosis (TB).

I believe that the time is indeed right to change of the name of the hospital so that we can visibly mark the momentous changes that have taken place here over the last half century while also recognising the proud heritage of the hospital and remembering the contribution of all the staff who have worked here throughout the years.

Our intention is therefore to rename the hospital as – “Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown”. In addition we intend to name the new wing of the hospital as the – “Noel Browne Wing”.

I consider that it is particularly appropriate that we name the new wing of this hospital in the memory of Dr. Noel Browne, considering that the hospital opened in 1955 as a Specialist Chest Hospital for the treatment of patients with Tuberculosis (TB), and recognising and remembering the pioneering work of Dr. Browne to eradicate TB in Ireland in the 1950’s.

This Hospital was developed as one of a network of Specialist Chest Hospitals for the treatment of patients with Tuberculosis and chest related illnesses and was part of a dedicated strategy to combat the incidences of TB in Ireland.

In line with a proactive approach to the prevention of TB and the successful development of treatment programmes (particularly penicillin) the need for inpatient treatment reduced and led to the mission for James Connolly Memorial Hospital changing from a specialist chest hospital to that of an acute hospital providing a wide range of general medical and surgical services.

However, I believe that it is appropriate that we remember the origins of the hospital and the work of Dr Browne and it is for this reason that I am pleased today to be able to announce this intention.


Finally, I would like to say that I am honoured to officially open the new James Connolly Memorial Hospital today and I would like to pay tribute to and congratulate the management and staff for their enormous contribution to the quality of health services that are provided here at the Hospital.

I would like to thank Maureen Windle, Chief Officer of the newly established Health Services Executive – Northern Area for the kind invitation and the opportunity to speak with you today. I would also like to thank the former Eastern Regional Health Authority, the former Northern Area Health Board, Hospital Manager Tom Gorey and the Hospital Executive, the Hospital Project Team led by John Browner, the current Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney, former Minister Micheál Martin and the staff of the department for their assistance in bringing this major project to fruition.

I believe this new Unit will be a great credit to our health services and I wish to congratulate everyone for helping to make it possible. Particular thanks are due to the main contractor Michael McNamara & Co. and the design team of A & D Wejchert Architects; Structural Engineers O’Connor, Sutton, Cronin; Mechanical & Electrical Engineers Homan O’Brien and Quantity Surveyors Patterson, Kempster Shortall.

Finally, may I again thank Mr. Kevin Kelly, Chief Executive of the Health Service Executive and Mr Pat McLoughlin of the National Hospitals Office for their attendance here today.

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