A planning application has been lodged for the construction of an 80 bed unit on the site of the Sheil Hospital in Ballyshannon, which will see the Sheil Hospital merged with the Rock Nursing Home.
The milestone is being welcomed by the HSE and the Sheil Hospital Trust, who say the existing units will continue to operate as normal until the new unit is completed.
Senior HSE official John Hayes says the existing buildings and facilities in the Rock Nursing Unit and Sheil Hospital have served the community well, but they do require replacement and upgrading to ensure the environment matches the care that patients receive.
The 80 bed unit will consist of 66 single bedrooms and 7 twin bedrooms in a combination of long stay, short stay and dementia wards. The project also includes the upgrade of the existing Sheil building to accommodate a Day hospital amongst other ancillary services.
The existing Sheil hospital is a 19th Century brick building over four floors, with some additions and extensions over the years.
The architects say the additions have detracted somewhat from the gothic architectural character of the building, and their intention is to re-instate the form and character of the original building whilst ensuring a clear visual segregation between new and existing structures.
No time frame is given, with the HSE saying once planning permission is obtained, they will seek approval to proceed to detailed design, preparation of tender documents and construction.
The project will be delivered on a phased basis, taking into account the needs of the people currently living and working in the Sheil Hospital.
The project is estimated to cost in the region of €19 million.