Family member of Owenacurra resident appears before Petitions Committee calling for prevention of closure

Family member of Owenacurra resident appears before Petitions Committee calling for prevention of closure

The Owenacurra Centre in Midldton Picture: Howard Crowdy

A family member of an Owenacurra Centre resident has appeared before the Petitions Committee asking its members to write to the HSE Board to reinforce the Health Committee’s recommendation that the decision to close the Centre should be reversed as a matter of urgency.

Family members and residents of the centre in Midleton are appealing to the HSE Board to intervene and direct the HSE to overturn the closure.

It comes as the Joint Committee on Health has referred the Owenacurra Centre closure to the HSE Board “as a matter of concern” in a letter last month.

The HSE Board was set up with the aim of building public trust and confidence in the organisation.

Speaking to members of the Petitions Committee, Orla Kelleher whose aunt resides at the centre, said: “The experience of families and many other supporters is that this vital service is being removed in a manner that does not stand up to scrutiny.

There appears to be no accountability for this and no amount of evidence or distress of residents or families or arguments from Oireachtas Committees that makes any difference to these proposals. It’s extremely difficult to have trust in the HSE as a result of this attempted closure and how it’s been handled.

Sharing her aunt’s story, she said that while life has not been easy for her, Owenacurra has “given her the chance to live the best life she can”.

“When Anna first arrived at the Owenacurra Centre, she found communicating with other people very difficult; she was reluctant to leave the building and could not even go for a short drive in my car.

“However, over several years of rehabilitation and with the support of the staff in Owenacurra Anna gradually found her feet.

“As a family, we are terrified that any move away from Owenacurra and Midleton will result in a serious deterioration of Anna’s mental health and wellbeing,” she said.

Speaking about the campaign by residents and their family members to keep the centre open and its services available to the people of East Cork, she said: 

This campaign is not about a few vocal families holding out against the HSE’s planned closure. It is about a broader regional need into the future for a very vulnerable group of people.

“Families and others involved in the campaign want the Oireachtas Health Committee’s detailed refutation of the closure to be upheld by the HSE.

“We want the building issues to be addressed in a manner that is not so disruptive that it leads to an almost total cessation of services over many years.”

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