Work on kidney unit has begun

By maria Pepper

Campaigners Fintan Bright and Alice Mernagh on the site of the new kidney dialysis unit in Sinnottstown Lane.
Campaigners Fintan Bright and Alice Mernagh on the site of the new kidney dialysis unit in Sinnottstown Lane.

Work has finally begun on the building of a long-awaited kidney dialysis unit in Wexford, a decade after the facility was first identified as being urgently needed.

Contractors Toc Construction of Gorey moved onto a greenfield site in Sinnottstown Lane on the outskirts of Wexford town last Wednesday to start ground preparation work for the construction of a satellite renal unit for B Braun Avitum Ltd which was awarded a HSE contract after the original tender winners Fresenius Medical Care Ltd failed to obtain planning permission.

The HSE said University Hospital Waterford which will oversee the unit and B. Braun are working towards an opening date in early 2018 and staffing at the facility will be the responsibility of B Braun.

The news has been warmly welcomed by people who have campaigned for the unit including Alice Mernagh of Rathaspeck whose husband Jim died in July last year, eight weeks after choosing to discontinue dialysis treatment in University Hospital Waterford because he could no longer face the journey to and from Waterford a few times a week.

'It's wonderful. It's a legacy if you like because I feel Jim's story, even though it was difficult to bring it out in the open, gave an energy to the campaign. I know that many other people have been fighting for it for a long time,' said Alice.

'It's fantastic for all the people who will not now have to make that journey to Waterford. I feel tremendously happy for them. It will lessen their load, she said.

'We mustn't forget all the people who have been fighting behind the scenes to get this unit for Wexford,' added Alice who lives a short distance from the site and went down to have a look when the diggers moved in.

The first thing that Fintan Bright of Avondale Drive did when he heard that work had started, was to contact his sister Celine Looby who was in Waterford Hospital receiving dialysis treatment when he rang. Wexford woman Celine has been on dialysis for nine years, travelling to Waterford and back three times a week.

'She was absolutely delighted because she can see light at the end of the tunnel now,' said Fintan (67) who saved his 41-year old son Graham's life by donating a kidney to him in a transplant operation in Austria in March 2016.

'I was over the moon myself when I heard they were working on the site,' said Fintan.

B. Braun has planning permission from Wexford County Council to build a 757 sq. m. single-storey dialysis unit in a contemporary design with a detached storage building, fronting onto an existing internal access road set back from Sinnottstown Lane and adjacent to Drinagh Retail Park. The site is on the same access road as Leisuremax.

The unit will have 14 treatment bays catering for 35 to 50 patients cared for by eight medical staff along with 19 car parking spaces to the front and side of the building and an ambulance drop-off area.

B Braun Avitum is a leading provider of renal care with more than 350 centres in over 30 countries around the world, including the UK.

The company which was a runner-up in the original tender process for the unit has worked with the HSE for over 10 years and runs the Wellstone Dialysis clinic in Galway. It has plans to establish further renal facilities in Ireland.

B Braun said there will be additional employment opportunities in Drinagh in waste management contracts, cleaning, patient support serivces and transport contracts through the HSE. Clinical waste will be collected weekly by a specialist contractor and domestic waste collected by a licensed private company.

In its application to the Council, B Braun Avitum described the Drinagh site which is closed to the Rosslare roundabout, as 'the most appropriate location in Wexford' with 'unparalleled accessibility'.

The landowners Ardcavan Developments, part of the Kent group, consented to B Braun Avitum applying for planning permission on the site.

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