2017: Mercer’s Institute for Successful Ageing, Ireland’s first dedicated centre of excellence for successful ageing, is officially opened by the President, Michael D. Higgins. The purpose-built seven-storey building aims to provide coordinated care to both inpatients and outpatients. It includes 116 inpatient beds, rehabilitation units and continuing care units. It also provides early diagnostic and rapid access care clinics for up to 30,000 people per year. The facility also includes a four-storey research building. Commenting on the official opening, MISA director, Professor Rose Anne Kenny, described it as an important milestone for Ireland, noting, ‘Ireland’s ageing population is growing at a fast pace and the establishment of one of Europe’s largest centres dedicated to high-quality care for older people is key to ensuring that Ireland continues to lead the way when it comes to research and training in all aspects of health, policy and social care, as well as promoting wellness and independent living in the community’. MISA cost approximately €48 million and was funded by the HSE, The Atlantic Philanthropies, the Department of Health and St. James’s Hospital.
2010: The American charity The Atlantic Philanthropies has donated €16.8 million towards the capital cost of this development. Funding was sourced for the delivery of a new state-of-the-art building which will house the four pillars of the Institute: Clinical Care, Education and Training, Research and Development, and the Creative Life Centre. Launched by Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney in June 2010, plans for the delivery of this building are underway.
1991: The Health Research Board provided funds to support research into Alzheimer’s Disease and to establish a Memory Clinic to provide diagnosis and intervention for people concerned about changes in their memory or who have noted other changes in cognitive functioning. The Department of Health also provided funding to support an information and development centre now known as the Dementia Services Information and Development Centre (DSIDC). The purpose of this centre is to provide information, education and training, and to maintain data-bases on research relating to Alzheimer’s disease.
1988: Professor Davis Coakley and Professor James Malone submitted a document to the governors of Mercer’s Hospital proposing the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Ageing research at St. James’s Hospital which would be supported by funds accruing from the sale of the hospital. The governors identified the proposal as the principal object of their newly established charity, and the Mercer’s Institute for Research on Ageing (MIRA) was established. Since its foundation, the MIRA has gone from strength to strength achieving national and international repute for its innovative and ageing research work.
1983: Mercer’s Hospital gave outstanding service to the people of Dublin for over 250 years. In 1983, it closed its doors transferring its facilities and staff to St. James’s Hospital. The Medicine for the Elderly Directorate (MedEL) at St. James’s Hospital was established in 1983 to provide acute and extended care comprising rehabilitation and residential care, as well as day hospital services. Med EL serves a population of approximately 350,000 people, 33,000 of whom, are over the age of 65.
1734: Mercer’s Hospital was founded through a benefaction from Mary Mercer of whom little is known other than that she was the daughter of George Mercer from Lancaster in Northern England and came to Trinity College Dublin as a student in 1663. By 1734, Mary Mercer was in poor health and she donated her stone almshouse on Stephen Street to a group of clergy and medical practitioners to develop a hospital which opened with beds for ten patients on the 11th of August 1734. Mary Mercer died three months before her hospital opened and bestowed the bulk of her estate for the foundation of a charity school rather than the support of the hospital. The new hospital required additional sources of income and in March 1736, held the first of many benefit concerts. In 1741, the Board of Governors invited Handel to visit Dublin to raise funds for the hospital and the first performance of Handel’s Messiah took place on the 13th of April 1742 on Fishamble Street, raising approximately £400 for Mercer’s Hospital, the Charitable Infirmary and the Society for Relieving Prisoners.