Breathing life into a hospital and its patients

Wexford Healthcare Unit

The site of the derelict Wexford General Hospital is to be transformed by a new 50-bed Community Nursing Unit (CNU). Main contractor for the exciting project is Glenbeigh Construction and the architect is Coady Partnerships Architects.

Formerly a union workhouse, the hospital was built in the early 1840s before being converted for use as a hospital in the 1920s. After closing in 1992, the hospital has remained unused, leading the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage to state that although the hospital represents ‘an important element of the mid 19th century built heritage of Wexford town ’it has unfortunately ‘fallen into an advanced state of disrepair’.

Although the £8m Farnogue Healthcare Unit will be built on the site of the old development, it is thought that Wexford General Hospital will remain untouched. Comprising 3,600 square metres of space, the unit will contain two ‘households’ of 20 and 30 beds, along with a central therapy module and related community spaces.

Contained in the HSE’s South Regional Service Plan, the mental health services component of the CNU is part of ongoing plans for mental health services in the south east. These plans have also included the closure of St. Senan’s Psychiatric Hospital in Enniscorthy. However, unlike St. Senan’s Psychiatric Hospital, Farnogue Healthcare Unit will not provide inpatient care. This will only be available in Waterford and Wicklow once the closure of the Enniscorthy hospital is complete.

The HSE hope that the hospital ‘will see the vast majority of patients and clients being treated in the community by building on existing community health teams, outpatient clinics, hostels and day services, with only a small number requiring care in an acute impatient setting’.

Other provisions will include the creation of a new entrance off the existing northern boundary on the Old Hospital Road and car parking space for 40 vehicles. In addition, provision is being made for a goods delivery area, waste management facilities and LPG storage tanks.

Landscaping will include new boundary fencing to the perimeter of the site, whilst attractive garden spaces will frame the new unit and aid in the rehabilitation of the patients.

Interestingly, several discoveries have been unearthed during the construction works, including old bottles and bone fragments.

Councillor George Lawlor said: “The new community nursing unit will be a very welcome addition to the healthcare in Wexford.”

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