A sneak peek at EUR55m Cork hospital

Resource type: News

Evening Echo |

It’s not due to open until July next year, but the bold new St. Patrick’s Hospital and Marymount Hospice site in Curraheen is already taking shape. DAVID FORSYTHE had a guided tour of the new EUR55million complex IF you’ve driven along the Ballincollig Bypass lately, you cannot have failed to notice the new Curraheen hospital which has risen rapidly in recent months.


The new hospital will replace St Patrick’s Hospital and Marymount Hospice, which have provided care to the people of Cork since 1870.


The hospital incorporates Marymount Hospice, providing palliative and cancer care, and St Patrick’s Hospital, providing care for older people, and all of the services currently provided will be relocated to the new site when it opens next year.


Plans were set in motion to build a new, state-of-the-art hospital back in 2006. It was clear that the current site on the northside of the city was too cramped to allow the hospital to develop further, so the tough decision was taken by the hospital to leave its home on Wellington Road and develop a new building at Ballinaspig More in Waterfall Road, near Curraheen Park.


The Evening Echo was given a tour of the new facility and if first impressions are anything to go by, the new hospital will be among the best facilities of its type anywhere in the world.


The main entrance is on the Waterfall Road. There will also be an entrance onto the dual carriageway, but it’s for emergency access only.


The most obvious thing that strikes the visitor on arrival is the sheer scale of the development. The new building encompasses 15,000 square metres of interior space, set amid extensive landscaped grounds.


The design by architects Scott Talon Walker, with the help of hospice specialists Jane Darbyshire & David Kendall Ltd, maximises natural light and gives a feeling of brightness and space wherever you look.


Though not yet finished, you can now get a true picture of what the finished hospital will look and feel like, incorporating as it does lots of glazing, balconies, skylights and spacious public areas.


The design itself has a central core area with four wings radiating out from it, maximising the light available to every room.


The building will be surrounded by landscaped grounds and terraces, offering views of the surrounding countryside, and all the patients’ rooms have their own balconies, or terraces on the ground floor. There are also large communal balconies and terraces attached to the public areas.


One interesting feature is the location of a prehistoric ring fort within the site, which has been protected and incorporated within the hospital’s gardens.


Also outside, impressive terraced gardens are now well under construction, linking ground floor areas directly to the gardens beyond.


Clerk of works at the site, Bernard Kelleher, explains the ethos behind the building’s design as “bringing the outside inside”.


“All the rooms have large windows to maximise natural light and there are extensive landscaped areas outside as well as large public terraces,” he said.


“The whole idea of the building is to make it part of the environment it sits in and provide as pleasant a setting as you possibly can.”


Every inch of space is used, with even the roof doubling up as a garden area using Sedum grass technology and offering superb views of the countryside and Cork city to the east.


The use of glass throughout the building also impresses, with the main public atrium topped with glass skylights, allowing natural light to flood in.


The entrance area too benefits from a sheer glass wall, three storeys high, while the building’s new chapel is topped by a very impressive glass ceiling.


When complete the hospital will include 44 palliative care beds and 75 beds for elderly people, mostly in individual en-suite rooms and a small number of four-bed rooms. The rooms are all are en-suite, making use of innovative pod-type bathrooms manufactured in Northern Ireland.


Each patient also benefits from a state-of-the-art Lincor Medi Vista entertainment system developed by Lincor Solutions right here in Cork.


The system, which is supported by a telescopic arm, can be used from the patients’ bed and includes:


• TV and movies.


• Radio and internet.


• Telephone and nurse call.


• Electronic meal ordering.


• Education and information services and games, all at the touch of a button.


As with any new public building, energy efficiency is a major concern and the Curraheen Hospital is at the cutting-edge in this regard.


The building has been designed to the latest renewable energy guidelines and is heated by a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) unit and a biomass (wood chip) boiler. The CHP also generates electricity to supplement the electrical load for the hospital and solar panels are fitted to the atrium roof skylights to supplement hot water requirements.


There are currently 220 workers on the site, which is now reaching its peak construction phase, according to Bernard Kelleher.


“It’s great to be working on a project like this that will really deliver something for Cork and the people of Cork,” he said.


Construction is expected to be complete in the New Year and following a commissioning period, all the patients, staff and services at the current site are expected to have transferred over to the new hospital by July 2011.


Such an impressive new building doesn’t come cheap, however, with the final construction cost estimated at between EUR52-55million.


Of this total the HSE is providing EUR17.5million and Chuck Feeney‘s Atlantic Philanthropies charity is providing EUR10million. The remaining funding, as well as much of the ongoing running costs, must come from the hospital’s own fundraising efforts.


Chairperson of the Friends of St Patrick’s, Regina Donnelly says that they are on course to make it with about EUR5million remaining to be raised from the initial target.


“The Friends of St Patrick’s and many of our supporters were given a tour of the hospital in May and it was the first time that many of us had been on site since the sod turning,” said Regina. “The progress is absolutely amazing and we can really see now what all the hard work has been for, the new building is going to be absolutely fantastic. I think people will be really amazed when they see it.”


The work of the Friends of St Patrick’s will continue and even once the new hospital is completed funds will still need to be raised to help towards the running costs of the new hospital.


“The people of Cork and further afield have been superb in their support and we are so grateful for that. It is a continuing effort which will continue after the move as well.


“Not all of our staffing and service costs are covered by direct funding and it is the service that the staff provide direct to our patients that is obviously the most important thing. Fundraising for this will continue for as long as that remains the case.”


Fundraising efforts are ongoing all the time across Cork from local pub quizzes to major events. At Christmas you can lend a hand by supporting the ever-popular Christmas hampers or Christmas cards while in the near future there is a vintage car show planned for Fermoy mart in July and a vintage car run from Whitechurch later this month, as well as a sponsored cycle in Dripsey.


Article appeared on 28 June 2010, Evening Echo. Online version currently not available.


Marymount Hospice is an Atlantic Grantee