MANAGEMENT at Portlaoise hospital are in discussions with the community service at nearby St Fintan’s Hospital to relocate its Chapel of Rest to the church there to make way for office space.
The matter of the closure of the Chapel of Rest on the grounds of Portlaoise hospital was raised over the weekend by deputy Brian Stanley.
He said: “The facility has been in use for decades, where people who died in the hospital would repose in the adjacent Chapel of Rest overnight. This facilitated families and friends to pay their respects there before a removal for funeral services.
“I have been contacted by a number of constituents who are worried that this facility may be converted into an office or for other use. If this is allowed to happen, it will put an added financial burden onto bereaved families, who will then face the substantial extra cost of paying for funeral home accommodation. This will be on top of normal funeral costs, whether they can afford it or not.
“Friends of Portlaoise Hospital have spent money they raised voluntarily to improve this facility over recent years and ensured that it is appropriately fitted out. The use of this should not be terminated by the HSE in an arbitrary manner.”
In a statement, the HSE said: “Portlaoise hospital has an ongoing campus development programme to address immediate and long-terms needs of the hospital. As part of this, the hospital is exploring ways to better utilise the existing infrastructure to create more improved and additional clinical spaces by relocating office space.
“Hospitals do not routinely provide removal services, however, on occasion (only three so far this year and six in total last year), families and/or local undertakers have requested the use of the Chapel of Rest.
“Should the improvement works commence, the hospital is aware and has engaged with community service at the St Fintan’s campus who may be able to facilitate such removals from the church on its grounds should they be requested in the future.”
The spokesperson added: “Mortuary services at the hospital have recently been boosted by the announcement of the Irish Hospice Foundation through the Design and Dignity Programme that they are supporting and funding a programme of improvement works at the hospital.
“This involves the upgrading of the mortuary viewing facilities at the hospital, which includes the extension of the existing facility and the provision of family waiting area, tea/coffee making facilities and toilet facilities.”