Preparing for the Pandemic – Cost of Additional Hubs and Facilities in Kerry

It has cost the HSE nearly €70,000 so far to rent properties and rooms for additional self-isolation facilities, hubs and accommodation in Kerry due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Information on accommodations and centres secured by the HSE in Kerry during the pandemic has been released, following a parliamentary question by Kerry Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae. 

During the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, the HSE secured a number of properties and hotel rooms in the county.

These were to be used to provide for self-isolation or accommodation facilities, if required. For instance, those with COVID-19 could be placed in these accommodations if they were unable to self-isolate at home.

The HSE said at the time these facilities were not pop-up hospitals and that people must be well enough to care for themselves. However, healthcare workers would check in on people while they were there and access to a GP would be provided.

Because the worst-case pandemic scenario never materialised, a number of facilities nationally – not just in Kerry – have been underused.

A large facility in the Citywest Hotel and Convention Centre outside Dublin received some publicity in recent months. This had a provision for 1,200 beds. Were there any properties used in Kerry, for either frontline workers or patients?

60 rooms were rented in the Rose Hotel, Tralee at a cost of €23,790. The Rose Hotel says that it was only used for accommodating frontline doctors and staff. It wasn’t required to accommodate any patients with – or suspected of having – COVID-19. The hotel says it pulled on the green jersey and played its part by providing rooms for frontline staff. No food or bar services were provided.

The invoice for this accommodation was submitted in the middle of May, when the number of cases had reduced dramatically. The HSE did not say if any of these rooms were used in the hotel. The hotel has since returned to its usual function.

Elsewhere, three self-catering homes in Ard Mullen and Inbhear Scéine in Kenmare were also secured at a cost of €9,600.

Three further houses in Kenmare were also secured by the HSE, however, no invoices had been submitted for these properties as of July 15th. 

An assessment hub was also secured by the HSE during the early stages of the pandemic. Where was this located?

A community assessment hub in Castleisland was opened in April at a cost of €35,000 for a three-month period.

Information on the hub’s usage was not provided by the HSE.

The contract in that centre was for three months from April, subject to extension thereafter if HSE required.

In total, it has cost the HSE nearly €70,000 so far to rent accommodation for additional self-isolation facilities and hubs in Kerry due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are a number of exclusions though to these costs, including: capital/ construction/ fit-out costs, ICT infrastructure, equipping, staffing, ancillary costs e.g. catering, utilities etc., VAT, dilapidation, deep-clean, transfer costs.

What were people to expect in these facilities, were they transferred there?

The HSE says a person who tested positive for COVID-19 or had symptoms would have been transferred to the location and given an assessment, letting them know how long they’ll have to stay and a discharge plan.

There was access to TV, WiFi and a phone for internal calls in the rooms. Staff would bring meals and outdoor breaks were possible at certain times.

Outside of the county, a number of larger properties were secured by the HSE. Can you run through a few of these?

The biggest facility and most well-known is the Citywest Hotel and Convention Centre in Dublin. It has 1,200 rooms and cost almost €21m to rent. There is some controversy in relation to this as, so far, there have been 586 admissions despite the 1200-bed capacity and the contract won’t expire until October 22nd, regardless of the need for the accommodation.

In Limerick, a COVID-19 helpline is located on Henry Street in Limerick, costing €3,542 per month for the property alone; the UL Sports Arena is being used as a COVID stepdown facility.

In Clare, a property in the Shannon Business Centre was used as office accommodation at a cost of €9,000 per month.

In Cork, a large number of properties were used as self-isolation facilities. The largest of these was the Kingsley Hotel, which had 131 rooms rented at a cost of nearly €300,000.

Kerry Independent deputy Michael Healy-Rae sought information on these recently in the Dáil and he submitted some additional questions.

The Kerry TD asked follow up questions, which include what the capital costs were in relation to the third-party locations, their current situation and overall use since the pandemic began.

In seeking further information, he was not being critical of the procurement of the accommodation or properties. They were sought or secured during a time of great uncertainty in relation to the spread of COVID-19.

Click the links below to see the documents.

DOC HSE 1

DOC HSE 2

Eamonn Hickson – 30 July 2020

 

Additional information – 20 August 2020

Accommodation rented in Kerry by the HSE for frontline workers was unused for long periods.

It has cost the HSE nearly €70,000 so far to rent properties and rooms in the county due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, the HSE secured a number of properties and rooms in the county, including 60 rooms in the Rose Hotel, costing nearly €23,800.

The hotel, which wasn’t required to accommodate any patients with – or suspected of having – COVID-19, provided the rooms for frontline workers.

Occupancy rates in the hotel were typically 8%-15%, and never exceeded 20%.

Three self-catering homes in Ard Mullen and Inbhear Scéine in Kenmare were also secured at a cost of €9,600; these homes had occupancy rates between 25%-67%.

However, they were empty for a number of weeks.

Three additional properties in Kenmare, which were added in July, had occupancies of 67% or lower.

No invoices had been submitted for these properties, as of July 15th.

The information was given to Independent Deputy Michael Healy-Rae, who’d sought information on third party support locations hired by the HSE during COVID-19.