The Rowan Unit in Cherry Orchard Hospital in Ballyfermot is to close its doors to HIV/AIDS sufferers after over 25 years of respite service provision to clients from all over Ireland.
As a Respite Unit for AIDS patients, the Rowan Unit is unique in this country and provides essential care and recovery for dozens of AIDS sufferers, including three long stay patients.
Last year the HSE indicated that the closure of Rowan Ward was imminent, in a cost cutting plan. But they were forced by public opposition and opposition of patients and staff to conduct a full review of the service provided in Cherry Orchard to this group of clients. The Review recently published has been approved by Minister Roisin Shortall and involves moving the Respite Care of HIV/AIDS into the Homeless Services.
Plans are being implemented to shift the service to Simon in Ushers Island in the City. It is reported that eight respite beds will be provided and that the three long stay patients in Cherry Orchard will be moved to other wards in that hospital.
But the patients themselves who depend on the respite provided in Cherry Orchard have had no formal communications, have not been consulted about their needs and have persistently requested meetings about this issue. They have received no response from the HSE and hospital management. They have been told that the Rowan Unit will close in a couple of weeks but are not given a date. They have been told by management in Simon that building work is being carried out on providing them with an alternative unit for respite but nobody is willing or able to meet with the group to offer assurance that their health needs will be fully met in the Homeless Services. These patients can often become chronically ill and need a hospital environment to have their health needs met fully.
Some but not all of the patients are homeless and yet all are being moved into the Homeless Services.