TJ White, Head of Nursing at South Tipperary General Hospital
Head of nursing at South Tipperary General Hospital, TJ White, said maximum use was made of a window of opportunity prior to the arrival of Covid in Ireland.
That period was used to upskill staff, put new structures in place and support staff in dealing with their concerns and fears.
“The picture coming from Italy and Spain on our televisions was very bleak, we were afraid our health system would be over run.
“Thankfully STGH had an opportunity to ramp up resources, scale back non essential work and prepare for what was ahead.
“Staff had their families to think about as well.
“We had to take into consideration their needs.
“They had to look after elderly parents, small children and some of them would have had their own health issues also.
“We put in place support counselling services, online webinars and the HSE provided platforms for staff to discuss their fears and concerns which were very helpful,” he said.
TJ White said he was immensely proud of the staff for applying themselves in such a dedicated and determined fashion throughout the response in the hospital to Covid-19
“Our three Cs were never as evident, care, compassion and commitment.
“All of the staff went way and beyond the call of duty.
“There was never a second thought given to anything they had to do, they embraced it because they all live in the community and are part of it,” said TJ White.
TJ said every member of the staff greatly appreciated the outpouring of support shown by the community to the staff at the hospital.
“It was refreshing to see, it was very touching for us all to witness that and it was deeply appreciated by everybody in the hospital,” said TJ.
“The staff all met the challenge head on, across all disciplines.
“Dealing with the mild cases of Covid to the critically unwell Covid patients the workloads for staff were onerous and everybody put in a tremendous effort.
“People on eight hour rosters were still working in the hospital after twelve hours,” he added.
“The surge in Covid patients that we were all expecting never happened thankfully in South Tipperary.
“The heroes were not just people in the hospital, everybody who did what they were asked to do in the community in terms of cocooning, social distancing and other measures were heroes as well, no matter what plans we had here in the hospital it would not have worked but for the efforts everybody made in the community,” he said.
Mary O’Donnell, midwifery, said the most difficult aspect of the Covid for women in the maternity wards was the visiting restrictions and in particular no partners being allowed only during labour and for one hour after birth.
“Emotionally it was difficult and the staff here were very mindful of that and did everything to help them in terms of support and company,” said Mary.
Dr Vijayashree Hiremath lead consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology said women did not have to entertain visits which enabled them to concentrate on their babies and their own recovery.
“Staff supported the women on the emotional and company aspect while in hospital and there was a strong follow up support service in place to help women at home after their discharge.”
There were a small number of Covid patients in the maternity ward.
Nurse Gemma Hennessy, said the colposcopy service continued throughout the crisis as it was considered to be an essential service and it was very busy.