A beautiful sculpture dedicated to all who have worked or received care through St Luke’s Hospital in Armagh has been unveiled.
It’s the end of an era and sad time for Armagh and a service of thanksgiving and reflection has been held, with members of the public, Southern Trust staff, former staff and patients, all turning out on Sunday for the occasion.
It gave all an opportunity to reflect on the history of St Luke’s Hospital, the place it had in leading the development of care and treatment of mental illness and the thousands of patients who have been treated and cared for since 1824.
And as a generous gesture of their continued commitment to the care of others, staff from St Luke’s Hospital also took the opportunity to present their benevolent fund of £6533.15 to the Trust’s Charity of the Year – the Southern Area Hospice.
Speaking at the event, Souther Health Trust Chief Executive Mairead McAlinden stated: “As we move forward to new ways of delivering care, it is important for us to recognise and celebrate what has been achieved in the past.
“The purpose of St Luke’s has changed over the years, but the ethos and values that drove its establishment 190 years ago have not changed. They are to provide the best possible care for people with mental illness and to treat them with compassion and humanity.
“This event gave us the opportunity to recognise the important contribution of our staff, services users and their families, and the people of Armagh who have contributed so much to the success of St Lukes, the development of new models of mental health care and to reducing the stigma attached to mental ill health.
“As Chief Executive I am proud of what has been achieved in the Southern Trust and what we are doing to improve the lives of people with mental health issues. It is important to remember that buildings don’t provide care, people do, and we have been fortunate that so many people working in the service based in St Luke’s Hospital and in our communities have had the vision and drive to improve care and treatment for mental health.
“We must pay tribute to these staff, past and present, who have been at the cutting edge of mental health care, and who have continually shaped and influenced the policy, strategy and model of care for mental health care.
“It is also important to pay tribute to service users and their families who have been on that journey with us, and to the people of Armagh who have for so long supported the community of St Luke’s with open hearts and open minds.”
Also speaking at the event, Assistant Director of Mental Health Services, Bryce McMurray, said: “It is important to acknowledge the support provided to St Luke’s throughout its history, by the local community in Armagh. Today people who use mental health services are increasingly better able to decide how and where they are treated, as partners in their own care and not passive recipients of it.
“Service users will continue to influence how mental health services are developed and provided, in their recovery.
“As far as is possible people want to be treated and supported in their own homes and communities, without the need for long term admission to hospital. As a consequence hospitals like St Luke’s are no longer suitable for today’s service, nor are they what service users want.
“Nonetheless we are here to recognise and give thanks for the part that St Luke’s Hospital played in the care and treatment of mental illness in almost 200 years of existence.”
To close the event, a sculpture was unveiled to commemorate St Luke’s Hospital, a fitting reminder to both staff and the public of St Luke’s place in the history of local healthcare.
Photograph (right): Presentation of Benevolent Fund to Southern Area Hospice
Front row (left to right): Aileen Lyons; Rev Matthew Hagan, Southern Area Hospice Chaplain; Fiona Stephens, Southern Area Hospice and Gerry Guy; Back row (left to right): Margaret Tierney, Eamon Hughes, Sean Convery and Kevin Quinn.
Main picture: Pictured at the unveiling of the sculpture are (left to right):
Betty O’Neill, former St Luke’s staff member; Bryce McMurray, Assistant Director of Mental Health; Cathy Rafferty, Lord Mayor of Armagh City and District Council; Neta Chada, Consultant Psychiatrist; Father Peter McAnenly; Archbishop Eamon Martin; Mairead McAlinden, Chief Executive, Southern Trust; Helen Shields, Sculptor; Elizabeth Mahood, Non-Executive Director, Southern Trust;. Rev Tony Davidson.
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