A home from home for troubled hearts
Croí now has a heart centre in Galway with accommodation for those in need, writes LORNA SIGGINS
‘NEWFIES” LORRAINE Peter and Frank Delaney were on their first trip to Ireland when they had to pay an unexpected visit to University Hospital Galway (UHG).
The couple, from Mount Pearl, Newfoundland, had taken a bus to the west after spending time in Dublin, Waterford and Kildare. One early morning, several days after arriving, Lorraine began to feel very unwell and thought it was an inflammatory reaction to an allergy.
“We arrived in accident and emergency at 2.30am, and they were setting me up to treat me for that when they discovered that I was having a heart attack,” she recalls.
The couple had already much experience of doctors and hospitals back in Canada, as both had lost their first partners to serious illness when in their early 50s. “But this was the last thing we expected – and we knew no one and were far from home.”
Lorraine was treated successfully in UHG’s cardiac unit, while Frank made several daily trips to and from his hotel. However, he knew they wouldn’t be able to take their return flight home on August 28th as his wife needed time to recuperate.
Unfortunately, the relevant insurance to cover convalescence had expired two days before Lorraine’s hospitalisation.
“If I’d known in time, I’d have bumped it up, but so much was happening,” he says. “My own insurance was no good for Lorraine. One of the nurses mentioned Neil Johnson and Croí House, and next thing, Neil was down with us at the hospital.”
Within hours, Johnson, chief executive of west of Ireland cardiac foundation Croí, had organised their accommodation in one of three apartments attached to a recently constructed heart and stroke centre.
The centre, named Croí House, is the first of its type in the State. Its completion at a cost of €3.7 million is yet another milestone in the 27-year history of Croí, which was originally established to campaign for specialist cardiac services in the west of Ireland based at UHG.
Located within a 10-minute walk of UHG on a site donated by Galway City Council, it was built with private funds. A National Lottery allocation for its fit-out was the sole State grant.
The Newfoundland couple were made to feel so welcome that tears well up in Frank’s eyes at the thought. “Look, here we are together, there’s a chicken in the oven and we’ve people to say hello to,” he says.
“Just like the staff in the UHG, Neil and Jackie Aupiais of Croí couldn’t have done enough for us. We’d have had a lot more stress without this support.”