By Jimmy Rhatigan
TEN YEARS after the courageous Susie Long fired the first shots in a war to get a hospice for our people the battle has finally been won.
Susie who lived in Kilkenny spent her final days fighting bowel cancer after a delayed diagnosis gave her no hope, spent her final hours in a Dublin Hospice as there was no such facility in our local community
On Monday, Health Minister Simon Harris delivered the great news to members of the Susie Long Hospice Fund which has been championing the cause for a decade.
A new 75-bed extension to our St Luke’s General Hospital, including 12 ground floor en suite rooms for palliative care patients has been given the green light.
Another huge bonus was delivered when Minister Simon Harris confirmed that funding is now in place to allow an MRI Scanner development to go to tender over the next few weeks.
He anticipated that construction of the building to house it will begin soon after and that the facility will be in place in early 2019.
“Delighted” was the reaction of local hospice chair Tommy Roche who along with hospice fund treasure Paul Colfer and Susie Long’s husband Conor MacLiam, a member of the hospice committee, met Minister Harris.
Tommy told The Reporter: “We are happy to put money towards the new extension that includes the long awaited hospice for the people of Kilkenny and Carlow.”
The project enjoys the backing and support of St Luke’s Clinical Director Gary Courtney and hospital manager Ann Slattery.
The chair also acknowledged the hard work and support that came from Minister John Paul Phelan and Liam Keane, advisor to the minister.
The minister referred to the great local work that had been done for the project and said a design team to include representation from the local hospice committee should be in place by the end of the year.
The development represents a major upgrade for patients as the extension is on the ground floor and has access to garden areas.
Susie Long will finally rest in peace and aptly it will bear her name, a tribute to her unselfishness, dignity and loving care she showed for the welfare of others.