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The Vice-President of the IHCA Dr Laura Durcan has said she has been extremely “heartened” by the reaction to staff to the Covid-19 crisis, hailing their reaction as “phenomenal”.
Dr Durcan, who works as a Consultant Rheumatologist in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, told the Medical Independent healthcare staff who are working at the frontline of the hospital have “stepped up to every question” asked of them.
“The atmosphere in the hospital is one of quiet,” according to Dr Durcan.
“Things are still quite quiet because we are not doing outpatients. You don’t see the footfall that you’d usually see from people going to appointments, people going to get scan etc. It is like we are poised waiting for everything to truly start.
“I do a lot of rostering in the hospital, and I have been truly heartened by the number of people who have stepped up for more work; the number of people who have stepped in from academic roles, volunteering to take on heavy call rotas; the number of people who have already agreed to go above and beyond what is the remit of their job to look after patients.”
At the same time, Dr Durcan said she is apprehensive about the challenge that lies ahead.
“I am scared for the staff; scared for the patients; and a bit scared for us all. But the atmosphere and the morale has been nothing short of phenomenal,” she said.
“There also have been things that make a big difference to people. Free parking for staff, for example, I know that sounds like such a small thing but it has been hugely appreciated. It is an acknowledgement that people can’t safely travel on public transport when they are going to and from a healthcare setting. We are really grateful for that. And that has made a huge difference to our nurses and our doctors.”
She also said that the provision of scrubs for staff, so they do not come home with contaminated clothes, is welcome.
“So we go into hospital in our normal clothes, we change into scrubs, and we change again when we go home. Essentially our home clothes are never contaminated by the hospital,” she said.
“And those small things make people feel a little bit safer, and little bit more valued. The same can be said of the PPE [personal protective equipment] issue.”
Dr Durcan added the Government needs to explore every avenue in obtaining PPE for healthcare staff, despite the recent deal struck with China.
While welcoming the deal Dr Durcan said this will not be enough due to the scale of the Covid-19 crisis, describing healthcare staff dealing with the coronavirus without PPE as “going to war without armour”.
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