Niall O’Riordan, staff nurses Sally Hennessy and Jainey George, and Gaels and county star Luke Fortune

Club signals strong support for St Christopher’s

A local GAA club has hit the back of the net with their latest fundraising endeavour to ensure persons availing of a local palliative care service have access to state-of-the-art technology to stay connected with loved ones.

The Covid pandemic has been a struggle for many families but, for those facing end of life, restrictions made matters more difficult.

That reality sparked the initiative by Cavan Gaels GAA to push to have St Christopher’s Centre in Cavan Town connected to Wi-Fi for the first time - an initiative that has been warmly welcomed by patients, families and staff.

Last Christmas saw the Gaels host a draw for a signed Cavan GAA Ulster winners’ jersey, framed by Ray O’Reilly of Cavan One Hour Photo.

The simple fundraiser, with the aim of delivering funds in support of the club’s underage and development squads, incredibly swelled the Gaels coffers by more than €10,000. Given the success, Niall O’Riordan explains the club “wanted to give something back”.

“We approached [St Christopher’s] centre and asked them what they needed, and we were absolutely stunned to learn that they didn’t have access to Wi-Fi. During lockdown, with restrictions and all the rest, it meant that patients couldn’t see family, and with no Wi-Fi they couldn’t even do a Zoom call.

“We all know people and families with loved ones abroad, who couldn’t get home for one reason or another, and we felt very strongly that this, something so simple, should be done for the patients there at St Christopher’s.”

At present, St Christopher’s Centre provides three palliative care support beds as well as residential care for 10 local people with profound disabilities.

With the approval of the Board of St Christopher’s, and finally the HSE, the centre was finally connected with Wi-Fi at the beginning of this month.

To coincide with the occasion, the Terry Coyle faithful also presented the hospice with a Smart TV, a mobile TV stand and three computer tablets for patients to “keep in touch with family and friends,” says Niall, who visited St Christopher’s with Gaels and county star Luke Fortune to present staff nurses Sally Hennessy and Jainey George with the new hi-tech gifts.

“We spoke with Harry’s Electrical and Harry [Lynch] was very supportive of what we were trying to do. [St Christopher’s] is so important part of our community, and the staff there do such incredible work. If something so basic like Wi-Fi, that so many of us take for granted in our daily lives, can make such a difference for others facing end of life, it’s great that we as a club can be part of helping that happen.”

Last month, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, visited St Christopher’s to announce plans for a new 16-bed Specialist Palliative Care Inpatient Hospice and Community Care Facility. The €7.5m development will also see two new homes and a new respite house for people with physical and sensory disabilities built at the Loreto Wood site.