From top: Adrian Bartley (left), his father Ultan Meehan; Kilbrew Nursing Home, Ashford, County Meath; Eamon Ryan and Peader Toibín
In the Dáil.
Aontú leader Peadar Tobín raised the death of Ultan Meehan who passed away, aged 79, in hospital just over two weeks after being admitted from the Kilbrew Nursing Home in Ashbourne, County Meath.
Ultan’s son Adrian Bartley, who was a resident of the same nursing home and who had Down Syndrome and dementia, died ten weeks earlier in April. He had also contracted Covid-19.
Peader Toibín: “Mary Bartley Meehan lost her son and her husband to Covid in Kilbrew Nursing Home [in Ashbourne, County Meath] within six weeks of each other. She was recently shown a video of her husband before he died.
“The side of Ultan’s face was discoloured with black, congealed blood. His nails were long and black as he had, unknown to himself, been picking his facial tumours. As a result, it had become infected.
“Shockingly, his face had become infected with maggots. Months after this has happened, Mary has sought an investigation. She has asked the Minister for Health, the Department of Health, the HSE, HIQA and all have refused an investigation of this.
“My colleague Eimear Tobin, Cllr Eimear Tobin in Meath, wrote to the Ombudsman and asked him to investigate this and he sent a letter back today. He said:
‘I’ve once again raised this issue extending to the remit of my office to include clinical judgment. The vast majority of cases relating to healthcare sector involve some element of clinical judgment. It’s a matter of frustration to me that complaints like these can’t be addressed by this office.’
“Minister, will you guarantee that somebody takes responsibility for this and carries out an investigation and that the Ombudsman’s remit is extended.”
Eamon Ryan: “Deputy Tobin I thank you. For me that’s a harrowing story which you can only feel your heart goes out for the family involved. What a terrible experience. Can I ask you to come back to me or to indeed to the Taoiseach or anyone else as to what legislative change would be appropriate in that regard and I’d happily respond on that basis.”
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and Fine Gael TD Fergus O’Dowd, who has raised the case several times in the Oireachtas, had the following exchange about HIQA looking into the case.
Stephen Donnelly: “I share the Deputy’s sentiment on what has happened. Along with us all, I express my sincere condolences to Mary Bartley Meehan, to her family and to Mr. Meehan’s family, during what must be an extremely difficult time. HIQA is investigating what happened. They are providing a report.”
Fergus O’Dowd: “That is my whole point.”
Donnelly: “To answer the Deputy’s question, if I believe the HIQA report does not sufficiently answer the questions that the family has a right to know, then I will act.”
O’Dowd: “If I could intervene. HIQA is the regulator. It did not regulate and did not act. It cannot be the decision maker in this. This is why we need an independent inquiry. I can send evidence to the Minister that may help him to make up his mind on that.”
Donnelly: “I thank the Deputy. He can feel free to do that. In the first instance, however, the only agency of the State that can do this is HIQA. That is the current law and regulatory environment.”
O’Dowd: “HIQA was the regulator of the home and it did not do its job.”
Donnelly: “That is fine, but what I am saying is that in the first instance, HIQA has to investigate.”
Previously: “Will She Be Told Why This Happened?”