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‘Serious’ campus shortfalls at Rotunda Hospital

By Catherine Reilly - 06th Aug 2019

The Rotunda Hospital in Dublin is examining the possibility of a major fundraising initiative, including connecting with “high net-worth individuals”, in order to develop its campus due to major concerns around healthcare-associated infections.

In June, the Master of the Rotunda Prof Fergal Malone told its board of his “serious concerns” regarding the “sustainability” of the hospital infrastructure, noting there was “no progression” of co-location to Connolly Hospital since an announcement in 2015 by now Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

The meeting heard that the “primary causal factor” for a recent outbreak of extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Klebsiella in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) was “spatial restrictions due to the current aged infrastructure”. The outbreak was closed-out, according to meeting minutes.

The board’s previous meeting in May heard that this “serious drug-resistant infection… has spread, with eight babies now impacted. Potential adverse outcomes, neurological impairment for premature vulnerable babies were outlined.”  There was also reference to one “very premature” baby who had died.

The NICU was closed to external admission and was transferring babies requiring neonatal care to the National Maternity Hospital and Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, in what was a “major operational crisis” for the hospital. Refurbishment of the NICU had not provided substantive additional space, advised Prof Malone.

At the June board meeting, in the context of a presentation by the Rotunda Foundation, Prof Malone said the “best estimate” of the time frame for completing the move to Connolly would be 10-to-15 years and “doing nothing in the interim is not an option”.

Reference was made to instigating a major fundraising programme in the context of developing the Rotunda at its existing location on Parnell Square.

“The board will need to be very clear and agree any red lines for the hospital in securing private donations,” according to the minutes, which also referred to personal contacts as being critical, “as is the hospital’s ability to connect with high net-worth individuals”.

According to a Rotunda spokesperson, “this [fundraising programme] is subject to further consideration by the Rotunda board as to how this will be managed and governed in collaboration with the board of the Rotunda Foundation”.

The Department of Health stated that, along with the HSE, it will “continue to engage with the Rotunda regarding the level of priority capital investment required at the hospital pending the relocation to the Connolly campus. In addition, consideration is being given to the next steps in progressing the relocation to the Connolly campus.”

Last year, the Medical Independent reported that an outbreak of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) at the Rotunda’s NICU contributed to the severity of illness in two babies who died due to the complications of prematurity.

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