Location of Covid-19 mass vaccination centre a surprise to hotel manager

ireland
Location Of Covid-19 Mass Vaccination Centre A Surprise To Hotel Manager
The Seven Oaks Hotel in Carlow being one of the selected centres came as news to management at the premises. Photo: PA Images.
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Sarah Slater

The location of one of the State’s 37 Covid-19 mass vaccination centres has come as a surprise to its hotel manager.

Despite being named in the Government announcement on Monday, the Seven Oaks Hotel in Carlow being one of the selected centres came as news to management at the premises.

The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, announced the premises as one of 37 designated centres on Tuesday.

Michael Walsh, the hotel’s manager, said he was “surprised” when he saw the premises named in the media as the designated centre for the county.

“It had not been confirmed with us,” said Mr Walsh.

It’s frustrating. I’d rather know either way so we can go ahead and plan for it

The HSE had been in contact and inspected the hotel’s ballroom last month, but Mr Walsh had not been contacted in recent times by the health bodies.

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Mr Walsh said the hotel would be happy to play its part in the vaccination programme by hosting the centre.

“As soon as we get people vaccinated, the sooner all of our hotels can open up and we can get things going,” he said.

“It’s frustrating. I’d rather know either way so we can go ahead and plan for it and make sure it’s ready to go.”

While the Department of Health indicated in its announcement that a number of venue contracts had yet to be finalised, the Seven Oaks Hotel was not indicated to be among these.

It is understood that the hotel, located on the Athy Road, had been the HSE’s preferred option last week, with its central location and large parking capacity viewed as big positives.

Local Fianna Fáil TD Jennifer Murnane O’Connor said the announcement was a “major booboo” for the Department of Health and the HSE.

“It appears to be they don’t know what they are at. Do they not communicate at all? Somebody in the HSE would have told the Department and Minister Donnelly about the location but now no one seems to know anything,” said Ms Murnane O’Connor.

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“Mr Walsh phoned me about this and he knew nothing about being chosen as he received no confirmation from the Department nor the HSE. He wants to help and is delighted to do his part. The location of the hotel, its size, parking facilities etcetera are perfect.

“I was under the impression that it had all been signed, sealed and delivered and welcomed the hotel being selected but then to my horror I found out the real truth from Mr Walsh.”

It is understood that two other venues, one being IT Carlow, are also being examined, after additional specifications in relation to pharmacy storage and patient registration caused a reconsideration.

A HSE spokesperson said that a final decision on the venue had not been made but that the commitment to have a centre in Carlow town and have it begin operations in March remained.

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