Child asks Santa to help her sister get treatment
The younger sister of a teenage County Wexford girl with acute behavioural difficulties who has been in hospital for 138 days awaiting transfer to an appropriate residential centre, has written a letter to Santa asking him to help her family.
The heartbreaking request was outlined by a family friend who joined this week with Independent councillor David Hynes and Cllr. Tony Walsh of People Before Profit in highlighting the case which was first publicised last month.
As there has been no progress in the weeks since the case came to public attention, the councillors have decided to write to Wexford's two Ministers of State, Paul Kehoe and Michael D'Arcy, appealing for them to intervene with the Minister for Health Simon Harris.
Cllr. Hynes said there is a bed available in a residential centre called Nua Health in Birr, County Offaly and 'all it needs is for someone to make a decision'.
Cllr. Hynes said the teenager who has been in Wexford General Hospital for 138 days, is 'falling between the two stools of autism and mental health' and she and her family are suffering terribly as a result.
And they are not the only ones as several families in County Wexford are in a similar predicament, having nowhere to turn to for help in coping with teenagers with mental health problems.
'There is a bed available and it's down to a HSE decision .The girl has Autism but also has mental health problems and it's falling berween the areas of mental health and disability', said Cllr. Hynes.
The teenager's mother who has three other children, two of whom are younger, has to spend most of her time in the hospital with her troubled daughter and is only able to return home for a few hours here and there over the weekends.
Cllr. Walsh said the younger children are missing their mother and have written letters to Santa asking him to help find a bed for their sister so that their mother can be at home with them for the Christmas dinner.
'It's heartbreaking', said Cllr. Walsh, a qualified counsellor, adding that the teenage girl who celebrated her 16th birthday in hospital last week, is on a two-year waiting list to see a psychiatrist.
'She needs help now and if they don't give her a bed, she will have to go into the adult mental health system when she is 18. She will be put into the adult system without anyone dealing with her problems when she is a teenager. She has been diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and that has to be dealt with immediately. That is why it is so urgent'.
'She has been in hospital for 138 days with no effective treatment and no schooling', he added. 'Here we are fighting one case but there are so many others out there in a similar position. I find it sickening. We are in an age of medical advancement but in relation to this we seem to be going backwards. It's Victorian', said Cllr. Walsh.