Letterkenny hospital clear-up to take at least one year

Flood damage to cost ‘tens of millions’, according to manager

Letterkenny General Hospital: The flood waters affected 40 per cent of the surface area of the hospital and 80 per cent of its services. Photograph: Trevor McBride

Letterkenny General Hospital: The flood waters affected 40 per cent of the surface area of the hospital and 80 per cent of its services. Photograph: Trevor McBride

Mon, Aug 5, 2013, 01:00


It will take up to a year for Letterkenny General Hospital to return to normal following serious flooding late last month, according to its manager.

The cost of the destruction caused by the flooding will run into tens of millions of euro, Seán Murphy estimates, though most of this will be covered by insurance.

Speaking 10 days after a torrent of water, silt and raw sewage poured into the hospital, Mr Murphy said it was hoped to re-open the emergency department on an interim basis within a number of weeks.

No services would be re-established until it was clinically safe to do so, he pledged, and this could take some time because of the volume of contaminated water that devastated so much of the hospital.

The flood waters affected 40 per cent of the surface area of the hospital and 80 per cent of its services. Among the services affected were the emergency department, radiology, coronary care, outpatients, gynaecology and pharmacy, as well as the kitchen, mortuary and medical records department.

Mr Murphy paid tribute to the efforts of staff to deal with the crisis both during the flooding and in the clean-up since. “It was to the credit of staff that all areas were evacuated with no mishap to staff, patients or visitors,” he said.

He declined to speculate on the cause of the flooding while two civil engineering assessments were being carried out. A previous flooding incident affected the new medical block before it was opened in 2011, he confirmed. Speculation has focused on the possible role in the flooding of a culvert near the buildings.

Loss adjusters continue to assess the scale of the damage and have yet to make a detailed estimate of the cost, but Mr Murphy predicted it would run into “double-figure millions”.

The hospital, which has the seventh highest level of admissions in the State, has been diverting most patients to hospitals in Sligo, Derry and Enniskillen since the flooding occurred. The plan is to restore emergency services on a phased basis using mobile diagnostic units for X-rays and CT scans.

At the weekend, a minor injuries treatment services opened for patients coming through the local NoWDOC service. Walk-in patients are not being treated.

Some 1,600 outpatients are normally seen in Letterkenny each week, and contingency arrangements have been made for about two-thirds of them, either on site or in other locations.

Around 350 day cases are also normally seen in a week at the hospital, including 120 cancer patients who are on chemotherapy regimes. Mr Murphy said care in these areas has continued unaffected. About 200 dialysis treatments are also continuing.