Cork hospital blames fire safety and privacy concerns on "old and unsuitable building"

Cork hospital blames fire safety and privacy concerns on "old and unsuitable building"

St Finbarr’s hospital in Cork has blamed concerns raised by the Health Information and Quality Authority on the fact that the hospital is situated in an “older building” which is no longer suitable.

The hospital has plans for a new 100-bed facility which it says will improve the experience of residents and staff.

St Finbarr’s was reacting to a report published this week by HIQA which raised concerns surrounding fire safety and privacy at the hospital.

An inspection at St Finbarr’s, which was home to 83 residents at the time, found that evacuation from some rooms which had five or six residents in the event of a fire would be “difficult.” 

 A fire safety risk assessment, carried out at St Finbarr’s in August 2011, identified a risk where the number of beds in a bedrooms exceeds the recommended four bed limit.

Despite this report, HIQA inspectors found six bedrooms across two wards in the hospital which contained five or six residents each.

Inspectors explained that each room had a column obstructing the escape route of residents, and that, if a fire broke out at the back of one of the rooms, staff would have to move between four and five beds in a specific sequence before being able to move the resident in bed closest to the fire.

HIQA spoke to staff who confirmed that “escape from these rooms, although feasible, was difficult”.

Inspectors were also told by staff that the procedure for evacuating residents from first floor areas stopped at horizontal evacuation only and that they were reliant on the fire service arriving in a short time to assist them with the evacuation from that point.

While HIQA acknowledged that the hospital is close to the fire station, they said they were not assured that the registered provider had made adequate arrangements for evacuating, where necessary in the event of a fire, of all persons in the designated centre and safe placements of residents.

HIQA also found that four loose oxygen cylinders were “stored haphazardly” amongst combustible items and were not on suitable stands in part of the hospital.

Inspectors also found a bulb that did not fit the light fitting and was hanging from exposed electrical wires in a treatment room at the hospital.

In response to the report, a spokesperson for Cork Kerry Community Healthcare said:

“Many of the issues raised by HIQA stem from the fact that St Finbarr’s is currently located in an older building which is no longer suitable for the type of long-term care we aim to provide.

“Staff and management are committed to providing the best care they can, within these constraints.

“All available space in the current building is used as effectively and safely as possible,” she added.

The spokesperson added that a new 100-bed community nursing unit is planned for the site which, when completed, will allow staff to provide a greater level of privacy for residents.

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