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A new management structure has been put in place at Cahercalla Community Hospital and Hospice while confirmation of three new COVID-19 cases has caused fresh concern at the facility.

On Monday, Mowlam Healthcare took charge of the clinical and managerial oversight at Cahercalla. Cahercalla’s Board of Directors who work in a voluntary capacity, continue to have sole ownership of Cahercalla and have ultimate responsibility for the governance of the facility. Mowlam will provide clinical and managerial services.

Cahercalla remains an independent voluntary residential care facility and maintains its charitable status. Employees will retain their existing contractual arrangements and remain on as employees at the Ennis facility.

Issues regarding compliance to HIQA standards became apparent last month as 23 cases of COVID-19 emerged with four deaths occurring as a result of the outbreak.

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Dr. Michael Harty, Chairman of the Cahercalla Board told The Clare Echo that governance and management structures became a concern during the pandemic. “We needed to act to address this,” he said.

All options were examined with agreement that the arrival of Mowlam Healthcare viewed as the best move to comply with standards and regulations “with particular emphasis on person centred care and will ensure that Cahercalla continues to protect the safety and welfare of all residents which is our primary focus and responsibility. Dr Harty referenced the 1600 beds already under Mowlam’s management structure as an example of their track record with HIQA.

Family members should not be concerned by the arrival of Mowlam, the Kilmihil GP stated. “I understand people’s concerns but they shouldn’t have any concerns on the quality of care and compassion that will continue to be offered at Cahercalla” and added that the levels would in fact improve.

There was surprise and disappointment in Cahercalla when three new cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed following the completion of its vaccination programme. The first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was administered on the 18th and 19th of January for eligible residents and staff with the second dose received on February 15th and 16th.

Cases of two residents and one staff member became known two days after the second dose was administered as part of weekly swabbing at Cahercalla. “It was something that surprised us,” Dr Harty admitted. He explained that this occurred “outside the window of maximum immunity” as those diagnosed had not yet sufficient levels of immunity but he flagged “no vaccine gives 100 percent immunity”.

It broke a four week spell in Cahercalla of no new positive cases which was “a disappointment” but “demonstrates how unpredictable the virus is”. Dr Harty said it is not yet know how the virus re-entered Cahercalla but that an assessment will be conducted.

Concern had been voiced to The Clare Echo by persons with loved ones in Cahercalla on the impact of having to be moved from their homes again as a result of the outbreak. “We fully accept that it is a person’s home, the decision to move somebody was not taken lightly and was done on the advice of public health. It is to protect other residents and ensure the virus doesn’t spread,” Harty commented.

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