FOLLOWING YEARS of disputes and lack of funds, the renovation of Loulé hospital was due to begin this week and is scheduled to reopen by the end of next year.
Once open, the facility could take surplus patients from Faro hospital as its Accident and Emergency wing struggles to cope.
The public social institution network, Santa Casa da Misericórdia, has signed an agreement with a construction company to repair the hospital and the project will be partially financed by the câmara.
At a ceremony on Friday (February 1) to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Loulé as a city, Câmara President, Seruca Emídio, announced that 16 million euros would be spent on four key projects in the area, including the repairs and renovation of the hospital.
In 2006, The Resident reported that the original project collapsed after Faro Hospital and the national private hospital’s association, Hospitais Privados de Portugal (HPP), pulled out of the agreement they had made with Loulé Câmara and the Santa Casa da Misericórdia (See The Resident’s June 17, 2006 edition).
It is believed that as a result of a change in the law concerning long term patient care, the entities backed out.
The hospital was originally expected to provide 15 beds under the National Health Service for recuperative care, under an agreement with Faro Hospital, and 26 beds for private patients.
When the deal fell apart in 2006, Seruca Emídio said he was very disappointed but was confident that the renovations would occur as soon as funds were available.
The new project for the facility will provide 25 beds for long-term patients under the National Health Service and 16 beds available to care for recuperating patients from other hospitals.
National government funds for the renovations total half a million euros, while Loulé Câmara is subsidising with 800,000 euros.
However, the total cost for the project is 2.6 million euros so another 1.3 million euros must be found in order to complete the project.
The head of the Loulé division of the Santa Casa da Misericórdia, Filipe Semião, said: “Now that we have reached this stage of the project, we cannot stop. I believe that in the case of lack of money, there will be no shortage of people from Loulé and philanthropists to help in the restoration of the hospital”.
It is likely that the issues at Faro hospital will not be fully resolved until the new Central hospital opens in 2012 and it becomes a facility to treat patients in need of long term care.
It is hoped that between 2009 and 2012, Loulé hospital can help support the strain that Faro hospital is under.
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