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Alzheimer's anguish for Carn woman 26.01.12

by Damian Dowds, Inishowen Independent

A Carn woman whose husband has been receiving respite care at the Alzheimer’s Unit in the local community hospital has appealed to the public to attend a meeting in the town tomorrow night as part of the fight to retain the service, which is under threat of being downgraded as part of Government health cuts.
Maura Doherty, whose husband John suffers from Alzheimer’s, said it would be a “mortal sin” if the unit was closed.
A meeting will be held in the Colgan Hall tomorrow night, Friday, 8pm and a large turnout is expected.
Four of the Ard Aoibhinn Alzheimer’s Unit’s 16 beds have already been closed, and there is concern that further cuts will be imposed with the Government seeking the closure of almost 900 such beds in facilities across the country.
“It would be so, so wrong to take this unit away from the local community,” Mrs Doherty said.
“And it’s not just the patients who would be affected, but also their families.
“Until you live with someone with Alzheimer’s, you can’t appreciate how stressful it is. And to get John placed in the local unit for periods of time has been a great relief.
Her husband has been suffering from Alzheimer’s for two years, and has been receiving respite care in the Ard Aoibhinn unit for the past six months.
“The staff there are brilliant, and the unit is well equipped.
“And it helps that he is local to us as the family can conveniently visit him. If he was sent somewhere further away would be more disorientated and it would be harder to visit him as often as we do.
“It’s a great relief to have him in a local hospital where he can be comfortable.”
Mrs Doherty appealed to the public to attend the meeting and help form a campaign to retain services here.
“We’re hoping that all the people in Inishowen will support this cause. If they don’t, our services will be taken away.
“We mustn’t be seen as a soft touch.
“No one knows when a family member will be affected, and you wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”
Then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern officially opens the Ard Aoibhinn Alzheimer's unit in Carndonagh back in March 2007.
Meanwhile, local politicians are working to make the case for retaining services at Carndonagh.
Carrigart-based TD Joe McHugh said he is in ongoing contact with health minister James Reilly about the hospital. His Fine Gael party colleague Cllr Bernard McGuinness said: "Carndonagh Community Hospital is an important local service. As a Member of the HSE West Forum I will continue to work with the HSE and with Joe McHugh to ensure that services at our community hospital are protected."
Sinn Féin representatives Pádraig MacLochlainn and Cllr Jack Murray met senior HSE staff in Dublin yesterday.
"We also raised Buncrana Nursing Unit and the HSE’s plans there. Both Buncrana Nursing Unit and Carndonagh Community Hospital were fought for and part funded by local communities and if the Government or anyone thinks that we will stand by and watch them being squeezed further, then they are in for a shock".
While also supporting the Carn campaign, Fianna Fáil TD Charlie McConalogue says the Minister for Health has signed off on the closure of hundreds of public beds in community nursing homes.
“I am seeking urgent clarification from the Minister on what constitutes a smaller unit to determine if Buncrana will be considered for closure.”
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