A FOUR-month-old baby girl must stay in hospital indefinitely as the HSE can’t afford to provide part-time nursing care for her.
Finglas tot Saoirse Dunne must essentially live in Temple Street Hospital, where she has been since she was born in May, because the HSE can’t afford to pay the €2,988 a week charged by nursing agencies for part-time care in the home.
Saoirse, who suffers from Treacher Collins Syndrome, was born without a chin and one of her ears.
At three-weeks-old she developed breathing difficulties and can now only breathe through a tracheostomy tube in her throat, which needs regular suctioning to clear any blockages.
She also underwent cranial facial surgery at six weeks to give her jaw structure.
However, Saoirse no longer needs acute care and is fit for discharge but her bewildered and exhausted parents are now faced with a new obstacle.
“To take Saoirse home we would need a nurse to be with her for eight hours a night, seven nights a week so that we can get some sleep,” explained dad Damien Dunne.
“Saoirse literally needs someone with her all day to ensure her tube doesn’t get blocked.
“I have to work to keep a roof over our heads and my wife will be her full-time carer throughout the day, but we have to be able to get some rest. How else are we expected to cope?”
Life has been a blur for Damien and his wife Elisha since the birth of Saoirse.
Elisha also suffers from Treacher Collins Syndrome but it was believed throughout the pregnancy that their baby did not have the illness.
Every day for the last four months, Elisha has spent up to 10 hours by Saoirse’s bedside.
Naturally the couple are longing for the day that they can bring their daughter home but their hopes were dashed last week when they met with the HSE.
“They basically told us that they could only afford to provide a nurse for eight hours a week, not eight hours a day,” Damien explained.
“That just won’t work and the hospital are reluctant to discharge Saoirse without the right set-up for her to go home to.
“The HSE gave us the costings, which showed that it would cost €2,988 for an agency nurse to come for 56 hours which is absolutely ridiculous. No wonder the HSE doesn’t have any money when it’s been paying agencies that kind of money.”
Frustrated mum Elisha Dunne said they are “stuck between a rock and a hard place”.
“What options do we have?” she asked.
“Saoirse is as bright as a button and takes it all in. The doctors will see if she can breathe without the tube in a year or two but in the meantime she’s as well as she can be but can’t go home.
“I don’t understand how it makes more financial sense for her to take up a bed in hospital full-time than for her to go home and get part-time care.
“Also, surely every child has a right to be at home.”
A spokesperson for the HSE said that while she could not comment on individual cases, each case is assessed individually and the hospital and community staff work together in the best interests of the child.
“The HSE is committed to providing the best possible care for infants with breathing difficulties who have tracheostomies in place to help their breathing,” she told Northside People.
“A safe discharge from hospital is paramount. Parents undergo intensive training to assist their child at home and on-going communication occurs between the hospital and community regarding correct equipment and level of care.”