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Where Nature meets Nurture - Connolly Hospital

Where Nature meets Nurture – Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown

Sinéad Woods

“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat”

(Laura Ingalls Wilder)

Long before Dermot Bannon graced our TV screens, spacious buildings with large windows and high ceilings were functional features as opposed to elegant architectural designs. These features tell tales of Connolly Hospitals past life as a Tuberculosis (TB) hospital and have been consciously kept in any reconstruction, keeping the hospital rooted to its deep history.

In times gone by (and in recent times where resources are limited) fresh air was both preventative and curative for TB. It was thought that good ventilation in TB hospitals would dilute the concentration of the airborne bacteria and therefore reduce infection risk, hence the need for large windows and open spaces. For TB patients a major part of their treatment plans involved getting fresh air so TB buildings where normally designed with small gardens at their core. One of the many stories Mick Roban told us on the tour of Connolly Hospital was that members of the community were involved in redesigning these gardens and were helped by prisoners from the local jail. The emphasis on fresh air and light creates a very nature focused environment within the hospital which is even more emphasised by the natural air fresheners (trees) dotting the halls. Visitors and service-users are greeted by a large tree at the main hospital entrance and trees have also inspired the names of the hospital wards (e.g. the elm ward and oak ward, to name but a few).

Constant reminders of Connolly Hospital’s history greet you as you walk through the hospital as it has been great inspiration for artists (some multi-talented staff members included) when creating works of art. One such collection can be seen in the image below. In these images you will see several bold colours outlining sections of white/grey. Theresa King explained that the bold colour outlines  the shapes of clouds and was inspired by stories of TB patients being wheeled out for their prescribed fresh air and would look up to watch the clouds.

Chakra Clouds Picture

Image 2: Chakra Clouds

The buildings we’re working in tell staff and patient stories of times gone by and it is important to pass these stories on to new staff members so they feel part of something much bigger than themselves. Connolly Hospital is a true example of nature meeting nurture but also where modern medicine gives a respectful “nod” to the traditional practices of old, it truly was a breath of fresh air!

Tree at Main Entrance

Image 3: The Tree of Hope – “When attending the hospital as a patient, visitor or staff member, hope is something that we all need. It keeps us positive and a positive attitude helps us heal quickly”