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Snow Fails To Dampen Kinsale Hospital’s Resilience

Snow Fails To Dampen Kinsale Hospital’s Resilience

Writes JJ Hurley

The Interim Director of Nursing at Kinsale Community Hospital, Mary Nolan, heaped praise on what she described as the resilience of the South Cork Community’s efforts to keep the local hospital open during last week’s severe cold snap.

The forty-bed facility, which provides care, not just for the elderly, but also caters for those patients seeking respite, recuperation and indeed palliative care, was left facing a grave challenge as the snow storms swept across the South County.

However, as the magnitude of the weather front became apparent on Tuesday night last, the hospital’s emergency plan was activated. At the heart of the plan was the necessity to ensure that staffing levels remained at safe levels to provide high standards of care for its patients.

In addition to a number of staff “camping out” at the hospital’s day care centre, the Trident Hotel housed a number of the hospital’s staff, who were unable to return home, with additional offers of accommodation also being received from a number of local bed and breakfasts.

Acknowledging what Ms. Nolan described as a ‘massive commitment by the hospital’s personnel, ensuring the safety of patients’ welfare, in what were extremely challenging circumstances.’ She added that the staff demonstrated a professionalism and level of team work that was second to none, as the five-day freeze called for all hands on deck.

In addition to accommodating staff on site and in the town, a critical part of the plan was the transportation of personnel to and from their homes, with Cllr. Alan Coleman coming in for particular praise in helping to execute this element of the plan.

Initially members of the Gardai, defence forces and Civil Defence were on hand to provide transport to ferry staff to and from the hospital, but as the situation throughout the county worsened and began to stretch services, Paul Kingston from the Oysterhaven and Summercove Coastguard stepped in, following a request from the hospital for assistance.

Working over the four days of the red alert, he was later joined by another colleague from the local unit, Barry Wright, transporting staff on a rotation system from as far apart as Carrigaline, Roberts Cove, Minane Bridge and the Old Head of Kinsale to and from the community hospital.

As well as the assistance received from the coastguard unit, a number of partners and husbands were drafted in with their ‘trusty’ tractors to ensure staff arrived safely at the hospital’s gates, with Noel Hurley, Clontead, being a familiar asset in this regard.

Indeed, Ms. Nolan remarked: “We were overwhelmed and amazed at the dedication of all those individuals who transported staff to the facility, at times putting their own lives at risk,”

In a week that witnessed many acts of selflessness, including clinical nurse manager, Jennifer McElroy, walking to Kinsale town, a distance of 3km, to collect a prescription, returning with ten sliced loaves in hand, was typical of the herculean efforts to ensure Kinsale Community Hospital remained opened, according to Ms Nolan.

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