THE outgoing Director of Nursing at St Vincent’s Hospital in Athy would one day love to see the building turned into a museum charting is history from workhouse to modern hospital.
Helen Dreelan retired last week after 18 and a half years and her colleague Assistant Director of Nursing Marian Langton retired after 40 years.
Prior to coming to Athy, Helen, who was born and raised and still lives in Ballymore Eustace worked as a nurse practitioner for a time in Newfoundland in Canada and in Our Lady’s Hospice in Harolds Cross as the Assistant Director of Nursing.
Helen has seen great change at St Vincent’s over the years
“It has been a time of huge change with the restructuring of the HSE and the arrival of the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA). HIQA has brought about real change, for example as regards the number of beds in rooms which has been reduced from eight to four. That has meant that we have gone from having 224 beds to 116 beds. The establishment of a 20 bed dementia specific unit at the hospital was a very welcome development and we will have a new build starting hopefully next year, which is due to be completed in 2021. The current hospital building, which dates back to 1845, is a protected structure and is a wonderful building. My hope would be that funding could be found to turn the building into a museum which would chart its history from its beginnings as a workhouse to its current use as a hospital. I would be very keen for that to happen.”
Marian Langton started work at St Vincent’s as a staff nurse before going on to assume the roles of Junior Ward Sister and Night Sister before being appointed to the role of Assistant Director of Nursing last January.
Helen Dreelen says they worked together as a team. “Marian had been stepping in and out of the Assistant Director of Nursing role for the past three years when various people were absent or unavailable and she was formally appointed to the role last January. She has been a very loyal and supportive colleague and I couldn’t have managed without her. I think we made a good team and with our individual strengths we complimented each other in our roles.”
Both Helen and Marian wanted to depart without any fuss but their colleagues had other ideas and organised cakes and presentations of flowers to mark the occasion.
“We have the best of colleagues here who surprised us with cakes and flowers during or coffee break. It was a total surprise and a lovely surprise. In addition to missing our colleagues we will also greatly miss the patients and their families too of course. Looking to the future I plan to take some time off and do some travelling and when I come back I will look at doing some voluntary work. Marian has plans to do the same thing, I know herself and her husband have a holiday planned.”