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EEjob 30/10/2014 Echo News. Catherine O'Leary feature, Audrey Ellard Walsh story. Pictured is Catherine O'Leary at home with her dad, Pat, in Carrigaline, Co. Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
EEjob 30/10/2014 Echo News. Catherine O'Leary feature, Audrey Ellard Walsh story. Pictured is Catherine O'Leary at home with her dad, Pat, in Carrigaline, Co. Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan.
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HSE’s about turn on Catherine’s care

THE HSE has apologised to the family of a Cork woman with locked-in syndrome after a letter was sent, stating that her care was to be transferred more than 270 kilometres away.

The HSE has moved to reassure Catherine O’Leary’s father Patrick that she will be seen in Cork University Hospital (CUH) should she require treatment or assessment.

Catherine has locked-in syndrome - she can't move and can only communicate by blinking.

“We’re happy, thank God,” Mr O’Leary told the Evening Echo.

“She will be receiving treatment in CUH, that’s her right. She doesn’t have to go to Dublin,” he added.

“After consulting with a HSE solicitor, CUH advised that Catherine will be treated. They apologised and said it was a misunderstanding.” In May, a letter was sent to the family’s doctor after a request that Catherine be assessed at Cork University Hospital (CUH) as her shunt, a medical device inserted in the brain to relieve pressure, is not performing to its full potential.

The letter, seen by the Evening Echo, read: “Unfortunately, there is a complete breakdown of the relationship of the medical and nursing staff at CUH and Ms O’Leary’s family. It is highly unusual but I have been told by my colleague that if Ms O’Leary requires neurological assessment and treatment, she should be referred on to the National Centre for Neurological Surgery, Beaumont Hospital. This is highly unusual and I’m so sorry about this.” Patrick O’Leary and his family currently care for Catherine, Carrigaline, who has had locked-in syndrome since she underwent brain surgery at CUH in 2008.

The mother-of-one is unable to move, talk or swallow and communicates through blinking her eyes.