Smokeout at Hospital
AN average of eight people a day were observed smoking in the grounds of the Mid-Western Regional Hospital after the practice was outlawed, according to statistics.
This compares to an average of 19 people a day before the ban was introduced on May 31.
Security staff at the Dooradoyle hospital were tasked by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to record the number of people smoking in a bid to establish whether there is a change of pattern.
Split into a regular 3 p.m. check on 10 sites in the grounds, and a random check on the same 10 sites, the security staff recorded a total of 558 instances of people lighting up from May 1 to 29, with the main entrance the most prevalent area.
The staff repeated the exercise for nine days in August, and discovered this figure had dropped to just 72 people.
The inspections were started during May, hospital services manager Jim Gallagher said, “because we wanted to see what the effect would be before and after the ban.”
He believes the statistics show the smoking ban has proven a success.
“We think it has been very successful, in terms of reducing the prevalence of smoking on the grounds.
When you consider this is a health-promoting care facility, smoking has no place on the grounds,” he stated.
The ban on smoking inside the hospital grounds -- something which is made clear through a loudspeaker when one enters the complex -- has forced more people smoking outside the gates.
In the run up to the ban, patients argued that they were throwing themselves in the line of danger if they chose to smoke outside.
Security guards have often found people smoking in forgotten corners of the campus. Rather than see this as a negative, Gallagher says this shows the message is becoming clearer. “Beforehand, people openly smoked on campus. Now, they seem to be getting the message,” he said.
Sick Aquarium Fish
A FAMILY who visited Lahinch Seaworld expressed concern at the health of some sea life in the aquarium.
Jillian Concannon, who visited the facility last month with her four children and her father, Jim Lyons, has written to Lahinch Seaworld outlining her concerns.
“As someone with a background and qualifications in aquaculture, I found the health of quite a number of your fish to be well below my expectations for a well-run aquarium,” Concannon said in her email.
“Quite a number had signs of fin wear and/or fungal rot, gill damage, lack of oxygen and sea lice on them. The sea bass were rubbing themselves on the sand due to the irritation from these sea lice. My father, who works in the aquaculture industry still, also commented that he felt the fish were under stress,” the email added.
Concannon has a certificate in aquaculture, a diploma in aquatic science and a degree in environmental science. She has also worked in the industry.
“The skate, turbot and ray were all showing signs of stress, with tail fins nipped and gills damaged. I have never seen fish in that state in any aquarium I’ve ever been to,” Lyons said.
Lahinch Seaworld general manager Ian Taylor emailed a detailed reply to Concannon.
“While some of our coalface pollock do have small cases of fin rot, they are being treated with Melafix and are recovering. We do have one turbot that had his gill operculum ripped many years ago.
“I can assure you we don’t have any issues with sea lice in this facility as all water is routinely tested, buffered and changed through sand filters and UV sterilization units to prevent lice from being an issue,” Taylor’s reply stated.
Concannon was also unhappy that painting was underway in the aquarium during the visit.
“The smell was overpowering and not pleasant and the wet paint on all the tanks/displays meant that my small kids couldn’t get near to any of the tanks to see the fish properly,” she said.
Taylor said Lahinch Seaworld could not avoid painting the aquarium that week.
“We hope the work being undertaken here this year will make a difference to the offering and customer experience will be much improved,” he added.
A PRIEST who stunned parishioners by quitting has married less than a year after leaving the priesthood.
Ian Kennedy wed Maria Cunningham in a civil ceremony at the four star Cromleach Lodge hotel near Castlebaldwin last month. The happy couple were married before an intimate group of family and friends.
Kennedy, 42, quit his post as parish priest in Aughanagh last January after an announcement at Sunday Mass in Ballinafad that he was resigning for personal reasons and was starting a new chapter in his life.
The Sligo-born former priest, who grew up in Cartron, is living with his new bride, 41, at a housing estate in Ballinacarrow.
When asked about his marriage, Kennedy would not confirm any details and said that he was now a private citizen. At the time of his shock resignation he said he was happy with the decision which was made of his "own free will and choice."
Kennedy, who is described as a teacher on the marriage certificate and his wife as a civil servant, was acting parish priest of Aughanagh which takes in Ballinafad, Ballyrush and Corrigeenroe since 2005.
Since his resignation from the priesthood, Mr. Kennedy has been working as an invigilator at the Yeats Society in Sligo.
The Sligo Champion
Testing Baby Hearing
PARENTS of all babies born at the Midland Regional Hospital Mullingar are being offered a hearing screening test prior to being discharged. The test is available free-of-charge for all babies.
In Ireland, one to two babies in every 1,000 are born with a hearing loss in one or both ears. Most of the babies are born into families with no history of hearing loss.
The program is aiming to identify hearing impairment as soon as possible after birth, to give babies a better chance of developing speech and language skills and to make the most of social and emotional interaction from an early age. Babies who do not have clear response in one or both ears from the initial screening will be referred to the Audiology Service for further hearing tests.
The hearing test will be carried out by a trained hearing screener, while the baby is settled or sleeping, usually at the mother's bedside. The screener uses two non-invasive tests to screen hearing, with neither test causing any discomfort to the baby.
The rates of babies needing further referral to the Audiology Service is estimated at about two to four percent of all babies tested, although it is important to note that referral for further tests will not necessarily mean that a baby will have a hearing loss.
The program is already in place in HSE South where up to 19,000 babies per year are screened at the six maternity hospitals.
A VULNERABLE four-year-old Roosky child could become the first casualty of stringent HSE cutbacks. His distraught family is pleading with Health Minister Dr. James Reilly to intervene in the battle to get the support needed for his round the clock care.
Liam Hall has a very complex neurological condition. For the past four years he has been receiving care from the Jack and Jill Children's Foundation.
But that ended on his fourth birthday last week as he is now outside the charity’s criteria to support and fund families of children with severe neurological conditions from birth to four years old. This has prompted his extremely worried parents, Aine and Brian, to issue an appeal to Reilly to replace these hours and take over Liam's care.
The HSE currently provides 10 hours in home nursing per week to Liam, in two slots of five hours, that must be delivered between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., with no flexibility. Liam's condition is complicated by softening of the tissues of the larynx, sub clinical and clinical seizures and visual impairment, which means that he needs 24/7 care.
According to Aine and Brian, while they are happy with what the local HSE nurses provide, the timetable is too regimental and does not provide any of the vital night support they need, in contrast with the flexibility of the Jack and Jill service. Liam, who is tube fed, has a pre-school placement, but last year due to ill health he attended school a total of 15 days between September and March.
“There is absolutely no way that we can survive on the current allocation of hours. Two blocks of five hours, Monday to Friday is nowhere near enough. We are so fearful for the future. I do not know how the minister can expect us to survive with such little help,” Aine said.
“We are going to need more hours as Liam gets older and I cannot believe how hard we are having to fight for what should be an automatic right for our child,” she said.
The family is determined to continue to do everything in its power to ensure that Liam continues to receive the best care it can give.
“On a good night, he wakes up three times, which is just exhausting for us and as Liam gets older we’re going to need more support hours to keep going. This cannot come down to money. It would cost the state almost ten times more if Liam were to go into hospital,” she said.