The highly-successful fund-raising day for the Martin Hospital, Portlaw, on March 24th last (2012), was marred by the shock announcement from HIQA (Health Information and Quality Authority) on Tuesday May 1st, that the hospital was to be closed with immediate effect. This voluntary rest-home, named after Dr. James Martin, surgeon at the local cotton-mill in the 1800s, which catered for the needs of local elderly, without incident, for over 100 years, was now to be closed for health and safety reasons.
Coming weeks after the closure of Woodlock Convent Nursing Home, owned and managed by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny, which operated for almost as long, and which was closed for the same reasons, this was disastrous for Portlaw, and especially for the residents in those two establishments, also for their relatives and friends who would now have to travel long distances to visit their aged family members and friends. Furthermore, many full-time and part-time workers at these places were now out of work at a time when the economy was deep in recession and almost half a million people unemployed. In addition, business at local shops, where provisions for those establishments were regularly purchased, went into sharp decline, one of them – the local meat purveyor - who was forced to close up; a great loss to the area.
Quoting from the local Church of Ireland newsletter, The Bridge, of June last:-
‘All residents had to be moved by Friday, 4th May, to alternative accommodation. We are most grateful to Barbara Murphy of the HSE (Health Service Executive) for the efficient way she organized the re-location of the residents at such short notice’.
‘The Rector would like to pay a special tribute to all who worked in the Martin Hospital over the years and especially to our present team of nurses, carers, cooks, kitchen staff, domestic staff, and our hard-working Board members, who have tried over the last two years to instill in the minds of HIQA how important this local rest home was to the residents and the community. Our patron, Lady Waterford, deserves a special mention for all her years of long service and support. A special word of thanks to all who were involved in fund-raising over the years, and more recently the organizers of the coffee morning and raffle, which raised over €6,000.’
The Bridge article continued:
On completion of our ongoing refurbishment of the Martin Hospital, it is hoped to provide some kind of a day care facility for the community of Portlaw and surrounding areas.’
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This dream has now come to fruition and the September issue of The Bridge says:
‘DR. MARTIN DAY CENTRE:
The new Dr. Martin Day Centre will open on Tuesday 18th September at 10.30 a.m. The Centre will be open three days a week providing a very welcome place of relaxation and company for all who will avail of it. Volunteers are required and if you could make yourself available even for only a few hours on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday to help in any way, it would be greatly appreciated. Please contact the Rector.’
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An administrator has been appointed, and it is envisaged that on three days a week, those using the centre will be able to avail of morning snacks, lunch, afternoon snacks, the company of friends, daily activities, occasional entertainment, outings, Hairdressing and Chiropody services and more, for a reasonable charge.