'This building will keep us alive longer'
OPINION:People with CF and their supporters have built this unit from the ground up with heart and compassion, writes
THIS MORNING the dedicated cystic fibrosis (CF) unit at St Vincent's hospital is opening to patients.
All week my friends and I, who are in the hospital for treatment right now, have been contacting each other in excitement.
This momentous occasion is one of which we should all be proud. The rooms we will move to are on a designated CF ward, which has 20 cubicles with en suites, including exercise bikes or treadmills, TVs and internet access. These facilities will help with the many weeks, sometimes months, we spend within these walls - but mostly what it will do is keep us all alive longer.
It will ensure for the next generation that this long battle will not consume their lives.
It has been seven years since I began writing on these pages about the need for treatment in single, en-suite rooms on a dedicated ward for people with CF in Ireland.
It is more than 15 years since the current consultant and CF staff began lobbying for these facilities and seven years since the Pollack report by the Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland was published. It told of the grim and dangerous facilities in this State for adults with cystic fibrosis. Finally we are here.
It is people with CF and their incredible supporters who have built this unit from the ground up with heart, compassion and giving of themselves.
The 100-bed block cost €22 million and encompasses wards with isolation rooms for people with cancer, MRSA and neurological issues. But the cost has been greater than any money can calculate, in terms of lives, heart, sheer grit and unflappable determination from all involved.
There is a sense of complete separateness, when standing inside the building, like walking in a dream. Then there is that feeling deeper in my gut, that feeling of completion, the sense of being in a place that is so familiar because we have waited so long to see it.
The fight for equality of care has been long and punctuated by much sorrow and disappointment, manoeuvres which have blocked funding and squabbles over sites and contractors.
What has been the overwhelming fuel though for all involved is the support and energy given by those who saw the injustice, those who rallied behind us in support, in small and big ways, in public or in private.
This is not just a building. It can be said, without any sense of overzealousness, that this building is a part of every single person who fought for it. It would not be here without dear friends who used their last weeks on Earth to take to the airwaves to push the bricks of change uphill. We would not be here but for them.