“It’s the staff and the patients - it’s like a family hub”…

Agnes Murray a Clinical Nurse Manager has been with St Luke’s in Rathgar for over thirty-one years and ran the day ward up until last September. Agnes who did part of her training with St Luke's says from day one she was really impressed with its ethos and culture “Because St Luke's is a small unit and specialises in cancer care, it makes it a special place to work. I have made lifelong friends, It's the staff and patients, it's like a family hub.” Down the years as well as working in the hospital’s theatre Agnes nursed cancer patients who were receiving radiation and chemotherapy treatments. She says she felt very supported throughout her many years with St Luke’s and job shared for 10 years when her children were young.

Clare Faul and Agnes Murray

Agnes was one of the twenty-nine staff who received a special award for over thirty years of service to The St Luke's Radiation Oncology Network (SLRON). The Network’s General Manager Jacqueline Robinson says the awards were a completely new initiative. “We have come through a really challenging period with the pandemic and then the cyberattack. We wanted to give something back to staff to show them how much we appreciate their contribution.” St Luke’s now operates over three sites in Dublin, at their original base in Rathgar and at two newer units on the grounds of St James’ and Beaumont Hospitals. 

Two other staff who received awards are lifelong friends and colleagues Angela Martin and Jacqui Purcell who both started working at St Luke's in Rathgar in the same year, 1981

Angela who now works as a PA to the General Manager remembers how delighted her parents were when she got the job after responding to a tiny ad in a national paper to cover a maternity leave. Looking back over her 40 years of service Angela reflects “I always got a positive response from people who gush with praise about what a wonderful hospital it is, how fantastic the staff are, how amazing our facilities and grounds are and this in spite of the trauma our vulnerable patients and families are going through.”

Angela experienced this first hand when her father was treated at the hospital in 1994. “I know from personal experience the positive impact St Luke’s ethos and commitment has on patients and their families. When you have lived through the trauma of cancer treatment, either as a patient or a family member, you don’t forget that single act of kindness or support, which St Luke’s has in abundance and gives unconditionally.”

Her good friend and colleague Jacqui Purcell began her career with St Luke's as a clerical officer in the lab. Today Jacqui works as Network Deputy Patient Manager providing admin support to all patient services and says she has really enjoyed watching the St Luke’s network grow but smiles as she remembers the resistance some staff had to the introduction of computers as they tried to hang onto their old typewriters and quips “We’ve come along way since the nineties!”

acqui Purcell and Angela Martin

All of the staff spoken to for this article fondly remember the Christmas and garden parties as well as fashion shows down the years which they say helped to create such a positive atmosphere and make St Luke's such a good place to work. Stephen Broderick a Clinical Engineer who started with St Luke’s in Rathgar in 1987 agrees ”There was a good social scene and camaraderie among the staff down the years”. 

Stephen’s first job with SLRON was as a technician in the mechanical workshop in the Physics department in Rathgar making bespoke machinery for the hospital. Today he is based at the network’s site on the grounds of St James’ Hospital making sure the all-important linacs (which deliver the radiation therapy) and CT machines function properly. 

Stephen Broderick and SLRON GM

Like Jacqui, Stephen has enjoyed watching St Luke’s grow into a network of treatment centres. “The units in St James’ and Beaumont are replicas of each other, when I came over to St James’ the new radiation oncology unit was just a building site,  it was really interesting to be part of its creation from the very start and certainly a career highlight.’

Of the past 34 years with SLRON Stephen says “I liked the variety, I feel like I have had three different careers and the job is not routine. One of my personal highlights is the people I work with and the fact among them there are lots of different disciplines and colleagues who are very technically gifted.”

This was the first time St Luke's have run the awards and they hope to add more categories to next year’s ceremony. Network GM Jackie Robinson believes staff have chosen to stay at St. Luke’s because the work is meaningful for them  “What we do here in St. Luke’s is really special, our staff are the backbone of that, they support patients through the cancer journey and go the extra mile to achieve the best results possible for each patient.” As well as a plaque and a certificate all of those honoured got an additional day of annual leave. The awards were presented in person at each of the sites with video conferencing across the different locations.

Picture Captions:

Image 1 - SLRON Network director Clare Faul and Clinical Nurse Manager 3 at SLRON Agnes Murray

Image 2 -  SLRON Network Deputy Patient Manager Jacqui Purcell and PA to the General Manager at SLRON Angela Martin.  The two women who have worked together for over 40 years at St Luke's. 

Image 3 - SLRON Clinical Engineer Stephen Broderick and SLRON General Manager Jacqueline Robinson