The 24-bed facility will provide a full range of specialist palliative care services in the West Dublin community and will make a real difference to patients and their families.
Speaking at a blessing ceremony presided over by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, the Minister paid tribute to the work of fundraisers and the support of the local community for making the St Francis Hospice Blanchardstown possible.
Construction of the €24.5m facility began in 2009 but it was only last year that provision of revenue funding by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to open the in-patient unit went ahead. Beds were subsequently opened on a phased basis between last September and February of this year.
The Minister described the hospice at Abbotstown, close to Connolly hospital, as a “superb facility providing specialist palliative care services” which would “make a real difference to patients and their families”.
He praised the local community and the huge achievements of the fundraising team. The HSE provided €1.5m towards the fit out costs of the hospice but the balance of the €24.5m cost was raised through fundraising activity and a bank loan.
“The Dublin 15 Fundraising Group led by Fr Dan Joe O’Mahony and Fr Eugene Kennedy made a massive contribution of €7 million. I want to congratulate them for their fantastic effort, along with the Chairman Justice Peter Kelly, and the Directors of St Francis Hospice Dublin,” Minister Varadkar said.
As well as providing 24 in-patient beds, the new facility also acts as a base for the Community Palliative Care Team, an Education Centre and a Hospice Day Care Centre that currently opens two days per week. It is hoped to extend this to four days as funding becomes available.
The two hospices, St. Francis Hospice Raheny and St. Francis Hospice Blanchardstown, will now provide a comprehensive range of specialist palliative care services to a population of 580,000.
Mr. Justice Kelly, Chairman of St. Francis Hospice, said the opening of the Blanchardstown facility was “critical to expanding the range of specialist palliative care services we can provide to the community. “
“The 24 new in-patient beds at Blanchardstown, in addition to the 19 beds we have available at our Raheny hospice, will greatly help reduce waiting lists for in-patient services. I thank all who helped to make this possible,” he said.
Mr. Joe Fallon, Board Representative, St. Francis Hospice described the hospice as “a vital and long-awaited service for the Blanchardstown area and indeed all of West Dublin”.
“As a charity, we are very dependent on the ongoing support and generosity of the wider community to help assist in repaying the €7.5 million bank loan and also in funding the day-to-day running costs of the new hospice,” he said.
” I would like to take this opportunity to thank and praise the generosity of those who have contributed to our cause over the last few years and to add that any further financial support would be very much welcomed and valued.”
Mr Varadkar also recalled the critical contribution to the securing of the hospice by the late Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan who represented the constituency in which it is located up until his death in 2011.
“There’s one person who can’t be with us but we should remember him. Brian Lenihan secured the land. He is here in spirit, I am sure. It’s a real privilege for me to open the hospice and I am so glad the HSE was able to fund the opening of the hospice In-Patient Unit during my period as Minister,” he said.