In late October 2016 the conversion of the catholic convent in Ballyshannon into the area’s new primary care centre was unveiled by Minister of State Kathleen Lynch. As well as the extensive refurbishment and repurposing of the convent building, a fit-for-purpose extension was added to meet the primary care needs of the South Donegal people. The HSE invested €7.2 million into the project which signified some visible progress towards their strategy the Minister outlined, developing purpose-built primary care centres that deliver services to communities.
The three storey facility provides community-based care to an estimated 10,000 people and employment to 100 healthcare professionals including HSE administrative staff. The renovated convent on the Ballyshannon campus houses these HSE staff including the chief officer, John Hayes, for the area one community health organisation. The national appeals office is situated in the building alongside the nursing and midwifery development, public health medicine and learning and development departments.
The health care facility brought together services that were once dotted around the area so now they provide a truly integrated primary care service from the centre for the those who access the services from Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim. The primary care team based in the Ballyshannon campus includes a relocated general practitioners from the South Donegal area, along with public and general health nurses. There are five GP surgeries, rooms for visiting clinicians and specialists as well as a public health management clinic.
Additionally, there are care facilities for chiropody, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, dental treatment, ophthalmology, speech and language therapy, orthopaedics and X-ray. On top of this there are some specialist services provided by the primary care team such as a continence service, dietetics and a mental health service including counselling on-site. This state-of-the-art primary care centre combines an impressive list of services for the catchment area as well as many of the HSE’s administrative and developmental departments.
Having a greater number of services in one location makes it a more comfortable and convenient experience for both patients and staff with a more people-centred and integrated approach to care. In addition to preserving the built heritage of the town, the new building helps to keep people out of hospital and at home, and it is set up to provide the right services to the people who need them most.