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Pat McCreanor answered Ireland’s call back in March and now heads up the COVID room in the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC).
The benefits of video technology have been really evident in recent weeks right across the country. The introduction of ‘Attend Anywhere’ a safe, simple video conferencing tool in various settings has allowed health professionals to continue to see patients virtually for a video call consultation during Covid 19. The HSE is in the process of rolling out various video conferencing tools, including Attend Anywhere, nationally across the country. Some 10,000 ‘Attend Anywhere’ video consultations have taken place across the country over recent months. In CHO 1 Attend Anywhere is currently available in Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan and Monaghan and services being delivered range from Community Physiotherapy, Respiratory Integrated Care, Diabetes Services, Mental Health Services, Psychology, Audiology to Dietetics. According to Wendy Rutherford, Implementation Lead for Donegal, "It has been a very exciting, challenging and rewarding experience supporting the National Virtual Health Team roll out Attend Anywhere. The gains for service providers and service users are considerable as we are enabling effective communication and care provision through the medium of eHealth whilst under pandemic restrictions.”
Drawings, paintings, cards and letters sent in from local primary and secondary school children helped reduce patient isolation and loneliness among patients at St Columcille’s Hospital in Loughlinstown during COVID-19. The Speech and Language Therapy Department came up with the initiative with the hope that a thoughtful card or letter could lift spirits and offer a connection with children and students in the community.
THE COVID-19 pandemic has seen attendances at Emergency Departments around the country drop significantly but the public are being urged not to ignore injuries that need hospital attention. Injury Units around the country are proving their worth as reliable and safe care providers for patients with minor injuries sustained at home during the Covid-19 pandemic. Greg Ashe, from Co Limerick, was grateful to be able to attend St John’s Injury Unit for treatment when he injured himself at home, and it’s a decision he feels may have accelerated his recovery.
In-patient palliative care patients have possibly felt the COVID-19 restrictions harder than most but therapists in St Brigid’s Hospice in Kildare have gone out of their way to make sure they remain connected to their families. While visiting restrictions were a necessity, patients reported missing family and friends and finding it ‘dreadful’ to not be able to stay connected. Staff too were distressed by not being able to support patients and their family in the usual manner, which is central to the holistic nature of palliative care. Senior Occupational Therapist Dervla Kennedy and Senior Speech and Language Therapist Candice Kelly noted the impact this was having on patients’ health and well-being and set about doing something to make sure that vital social interaction was restarted despite the pandemic. Tablets were kindly purchased by The Friends of St Brigid’s, and video calls and emails were facilitated between patients and their families and friends.
Tallaght Hospital has been providing psychological ‘first aid’ for its staff as the COVID-19 crisis continued to take a toll on frontline health service workers. When the outbreak began to escalate in China in the winter, psychologists in TUH started to research the learnings from the Ebola outbreak and the Sars outbreak as they understood the psychological footprint of COVID-19 would be large. Their psychology team gathered resources to help everyone cope with what was about to happen. The pandemic has had a major impact on everyone but on healthcare staff in particular. They need to be supported to maintain their psychological wellbeing
We need to support our workforce who have experienced significant increases in demand, and have been doing 'more with less' over the last number of years.