St Francis Hospice at Blanchardstown – Forum visit

The HSE Forum members visited St Francis Hospice at Blanchardstown –
accessible from the hospital – Seamus McGrattan (SF) Eithne Loftus and
Ciaran Dennison (FG) Mags Murray (FF) and myself. We met the staff who were very welcoming. We met the CEO Ethel McKenna and also Dr Regina McQuillan who is the consultant in Palliative care.

The director of nursing and other senior staff led us around. It
reminded me of Oliver Goldsmith and the Deserted Village.
The facility cost €22 million and is physically and architecturally
very impressive. There are day centres, family rooms, physio and
occupational therapy, bedrooms and a day care centre.

The pressure now is to get the HSE to fund 24 beds at a cost of €4.4
million. Currently the services operate 2 days per week. There are
about 8 Palliative Care physicians on Dublin Southside and one on the
Northside. There is also another (Dominic O Branagain in Drogheda).

We will try to ramp up pressure on the HSE to fund the hospice to
avoid the polemic of Goldsmith.

The Deserted Village

Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way,
With blossomed furze unprofitably gay,
There, in his noisy mansion, skilled to rule,
The village master taught his little school;
A man severe he was, and stern to view;
I knew him well, and every truant knew;
Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace
The day’s disasters in his morning face;
Full well they laughed, with counterfeited glee,
At all his jokes, for many a joke had he;
Full well the busy whisper, circling round,
Conveyed the dismal tidings when he frowned;
Yet he was kind; or if severe in aught,
The love he bore to learning was in fault.
The village all declared how much he knew;
‘Twas certain he could write, and cipher too;
Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage,
And even the story ran that he could gauge.
In arguing too, the parson owned his skill,
For e’en though vanquished, he could argue still;
While words of learned length and thundering sound
Amazed the gazing rustics ranged around,
And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew
That one small head could carry all he knew.
But past is all his fame. The very spot
Where many a time he triumphed is forgot.
Near yonder thorn, that lifts its head on high,
Where once the signpost caught the passing eye,
Low lies that house where nut-brown draughts inspired,
Where grey-beard mirth and smiling toil retired,
Where village statesmen talked with looks profound,
And news much older than their ale went round.
Imagination fondly stoops to trace
The parlour splendours of that festive place:
The white-washed wall, the nicely sanded floor,
The varnished clock that clicked behind the door;
The chest contrived a double debt to pay, –
A bed by night, a chest of drawers by day;
The pictures placed for ornament and use,
The twelve good rules, the royal game of goose;
The hearth, except when winter chilled the day,
With aspen boughs, and flowers, and fennel gay;
While broken teacups, wisely kept for show,
Ranged o’er the chimney, glistened in a row.
Vain transitory splendours! Could not all
Reprieve the tottering mansion from its fall!