The Health Service Executive (HSE) has been given the green light to proceed with major projects at two North Cork Community Hospitals.
Council planners have granted permission for the HSE to proceed with the second phase of a multi-million Euro plan of refurbishment and extension works at St Joseph's Hospital in Millstreet.
As far back a 2015, a report issued by the Health and Information Authority (HIQA) highlighted flaws in conditions and operating procedures at the hospital, finding the accommodation provided was not always adequate for end-of -ife care.
The report also found that "significant requirements" were lacking in the design and layout of the hospital, which dates back to 1932, noting that it was in poor repair with damp walls and damaged tiles.
The following March it was confirmed to members of Cork County Council's northern committee by the HSE that almost €10million has been set aside for works at both Millstreet and Kanturk Hospitals under the government's Capital Investment Plan.
The first phase of works at Millstreet was completed in 2018, with the HSE lodging a planning application with Cork County Council for the second phase of the refurbishment project.
It made provision for the demolition of a number of existing structures within the hospital grounds, including two single-story extensions to the rear of the building, a section of the kitchen extension, and walls at the rear and front of the site. It also incorporates internal works to the existing hospital structure and the construction of a new extension incorporating 11 en-suite bedrooms; kitchen and dining room; new extended day rooms; toilets and assisted bathrooms; administration offices and internal link corridor; and other ancillary rooms.
The application also makes provision for a secure garden courtyard, a landscaped outdoor 'wandering route' pathway and increasing the number of parking spaces from 18 to 32.
News of its approval this week has been welcomed by Cllr John Paul O'Shea (FG), who said that had visited the Millstreet facility last year with Minister of State of Older People Jim Daly TD.
"Both he and I were impressed with the refurbishments that had been made under the first phase of the project. The second phase of the works will make the hospital a state-of-the-art facility that will continue to cater to the needs of its patients and its staff," he said.
"Now that planning has been granted, I am confident the project will move swiftly through the tendering phase and onto construction," he added.
Meanwhile, planning has also been granted for works at St Patrick's Community Hospital in Fermoy.
It will entail the construction of a single extension to the existing Sonas Ward with the internal reconfiguration of existing accommodation, a single-story extension to the Dochas Ward incorporating eight new single bedrooms, a treatment room and a nurses station and ancillary internal and external works.
The works will also incorporate alterations to the 'service access' road running to the north of the main hospital building. The granting of planning permission came with 24 separate conditions, one being that the boundary wall with the N72 road be set back and lowered to improve sight-lines for motorists.