TWO firms based in the Ballymena area have played an important role in fitting out hospitals across Northern Ireland and the Republic in recent weeks in preparation for the impact of COVID-19.
MET Healthcare from Ballymena and the Hand Painted Kitchen Company from Cullybackey have both been contracted to fit out hospital wards and operating theatres in hospitals in Belfast, Cork, Limerick, Sligo and Dublin.
Based in Ballymena Business Centre, MET Healthcare is a specialist medical engineering company. For the past 10 years, the firm has been providing design, planning, supply, installation, testing and validation – as well as 24-hour maintenance support – for medical equipment and infrastructure systems in clinical settings throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Sales and Commercial Director Graham Martin explained: “With the onset of COVID-19, we had to refocus our efforts on projects that were being wound down or fast tracked for completion, as well as taking on new design and build projects specifically as a result of the pandemic.
“New operating theatre construction and fit outs in hospitals in Belfast, Dublin, Limerick and Cork formed a major part of that refocus, in addition to urgent planned maintenance programmes and emergency cover for other hospitals throughout Ireland – all in preparation for the impending impact of the Coronavirus.”
The Hand Painted Kitchen Company, meanwhile, quickly diversified its capability and service offering to assist with preparations for COVID-19 at a Sligo hospital.
Established in 2012 by the Dunlop family, the company normally specialises in the manufacture and fitting of made-to-order kitchens, bathrooms and wall panelling and other bespoke joinery.
“The completion of a new intensive care unit at Sligo University Hospital had to be brought forward by three months due to the evolving COVID-19 emergency,” explained Joe Dunlop.
“When the appointed contractor was forced to close as result of Coronavirus, we were recommended for the job because we had the skills, expertise and capacity to deliver the project on time and on budget for the hospital.”
Within a matter of just a few weeks, the firm successfully manufactured and delivered complex toilet and washroom framing infrastructure for 42 rooms at the hospital.
In a collective statement, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s Group Party Leaders – Councillors Gregg McKeen, Timothy Gaston, Gerardine Mulvenna, Eugene Reid, Keith Turner and James McKeown – said:
“Underpinned by a rich culture of R&D and innovation, Mid and East Antrim boasts a diverse portfolio of talent and skill across a wide range of sectors and industries. In recent weeks, we have seen dozens of local firms step up and play a hugely important role in fight against COVID-19 – not only in our borough and wider Northern Ireland, but in GB, the Republic of Ireland and further afield.
“In particular, MET Healthcare and the Hand Painted Kitchen Company are excellent examples of the tremendous calibre of companies that have earned Mid and East Antrim its strong reputation as the leading hub for advanced manufacturing and engineering in Northern Ireland.”