THE Health Service Executive and Kerry County Council have been urged to explore community-based alternatives to development at the site of the former St Finan’s Hospital.
The 5.5-acre parcel of land the HSE is negotiating to sell to the council for housing purposes is on the northern side of the bypass, at Ballydribeen, and not actually on the site of the disused hospital. It is understood that plans are being made to sell the St Finan’s building – a protected structure – and the ground on the private market.
Kerry TD Pa Daly remarked: “It is my view that Killarney does not need another hotel, if that is what is envisaged for the site. However the county does need additional community hospital beds”.
A new community nursing unit being built on a section of the St Finan’s land will have 130 beds which is only a marginal increase from the existing 120 beds at Killarney Community Hospital which is a combination of the former St Anne’s District Hospital and St Columbanus Home.
But Deputy Daly insists the new nursing unit should be allocated more beds to meet current need.
“Sixty extra beds would go a long way towards addressing the severe shortages we see in the count. I know of relatively young people who have had to go to nursing homes, at huge emotional and financial cost, because there are no community beds available to them,” he stated.
He said the county is also in need of social housing for older people and he would like to see that issue explored by the HSE and Kerry County Council.
“In Tralee, I have been encouraging the HSE and the council to come together and discuss the use of the Denny site by the HSE for an outpatient clinic in the town centre. To date, these discussions have not progressed,” the Kerry TD stated.
“Both the Tralee and Killarney communities are clear that they want more community services to benefit not only the residents of their own towns but people across the county who need to avail of services in either town.
“There is a great opportunity now for the HSE and Kerry County Council to meet and discuss the potential of both these sites,” he remarked.