A community is rallying behind an elderly couple in Cherry Orchard Hospital who have had their visiting hours drastically cut.
Anne Fitzgerald (72) has been hospitalised ever since slipping on ice and falling nine years ago whilst putting out a bin at their Clondalkin home.
The accident led to a life-altering brain injury, which means Anne now requires constant care.
She had previously stayed in Beaumont and Peamount hospitals, before a room became available at Cherry Orchard in 2015.
Her husband, Patrick, had frequently visited the hospital until he raised concerns over the standard of care his wife was receiving, which prompted the hospital to launch a review into Patrick.
His visiting hours were subsequently cut from eight hours a day, to three hours a day, prompting a protest from Patrick outside the facility. After this, his visitation hours were again cut down to just four hours a week – one hour a day, Monday to Thursday.
As a result, he could only spend a limited amount of time with his wife on Christmas Day, and couldn’t attend the hospital’s Christmas party, as it was held on a weekend.
Now, a campaign has been started by locals for Cherry Orchard Hospital and the HSE to ‘lift the ban on Patrick and Anne’.
Concerned locals, friends and family of the couple held a protest outside the hospital on January 5, preceded by two other peaceful protests outside the facilities in December.
The group have also launched an online petition to John Connaghan, director general of the HSE, calling on him to address Anne and Patrick’s situation, which has already garnered more than 4,300 signatures.
In a statement to Dublin Gazette, the HSE said: “Visiting of patients in all settings is encouraged, unless in exceptional circumstances. Interaction with friends and loved ones has proven benefits for patients, in almost every setting.
“It is very regrettable to see rare situations arise where there is a breakdown in the relationship between the families of patients, and those who care for them.
“HSE services do not routinely use visiting restrictions in care centres across the country.
“The HSE desires that issues would be resolved in a timely manner and we have engaged with the Fitzgerald family through a mutually agreed independent mediation process.
“Centres like Cherry Orchard Hospital are registered with the relevant independent regulator – the Health Information and Quality Authority. These centres are subject to on-going inspection whose reports are published.”