Re-opening of hospital shop not likely before new section opens

There is no plan to reopen the shop and restaurant area at the Regional Hospital Mullingar, which closed when the Covid pandemic broke out, the Ireland East Hospital Group (IEHG) has revealed this week.

However, when the new outpatient department is constructed, the hospital hopes to be able to address the issue of the lack of a hospital shop, a spokesperson for the IEHG has told the Westmeath Examiner.

The spokesperson explained that during the pandemic, Regional Hospital Mullingar was required to develop a Respiratory ED within the main Emergency Department, to safely manage the assessment of Covid-19 patients attending the ED.

“The development of that Respiratory ED resulted in the need to relocate the Emergency Department Waiting Areas,” he stated.

That meant that due to the space constraints within the hospital, it proved necessary to utilise the shop area “on a temporary basis”, the spokesperson explained, pointing out that this was because this area was closest to the ED.

The spokesperson said that as an interim measure, the hospital has set up a small coffee dock facility on the grounds of the hospital for the use of patients, visitors and staff.

Staff can also obtain fresh food and snacks in the staff canteen.

The spokesperson went on to state that Regional Hospital Mullingar has secured planning permission for a new Out Patient Department facility. At present, the hospital is awaiting a letter of approval to commence construction.

“When this facility is in place, and the Out Patient Department and associated services move to the new facility, this will allow for the development of an Acute Floor, additional space for areas of the Emergency Department and the reopening of a shop facility.

“Capital funding proposals have been submitted to support these projects,” the spokesperson informed the Examiner.