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*Patricia O’Gorman.

Ennis General Hospital is “ready for the second wave” of COVID-19 should it arise over the coming months.

Operational Director of Nursing at Ennis General Hospital, Patricia O’Gorman described the changes implemented at a model two hospital like Ennis as “huge” because of COVID-19. “Staff with ICU and ED backgrounds were redeployed to UHL for training to assist in those areas. This led to new areas of work, travel, training, new rosters and new colleagues for the Ennis staff. Surgical staff areas were stood down and staff were redeployed to assist medical wards, with training and support rosters to assist with surge capacity”.

“Hours stopped being counted,” the Gowerhass native revealed of the change to working hours as a result of the pandemic. Members of staff also attended daily meetings of the UL Hospitals Group Crisis Management Team on top of receiving national and local guidance. An information hub and a smartphone app was introduced for all staff, O’Gorman outlined.

Currently an Adjunct Associate Clinical Professor, Dept of Nursing and Midwifery, UL & Florence Nightingale Leadership Scholar, Patricia praised the efforts of all staff during the difficult times. She confirmed that workers in Ennis General Hospital did test positive for COVID-19 and have since returned to work. “Staff are preparing to return to pre-COVID services and very much looking forward to day services returning. Our staff have worked well together during the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic, and we are glad that all staff are healthy and well”.

The Quin resident said “excellent outcomes” have been recorded following the diagnosis of patients with the virus in Ennis. In her present role for the past five years, Patricia felt the reaction of the public to their staff has “been exceptional”. She said, “It was very heartening to see the appreciation the general public are showing for frontline staff, and I hope this support will act as a catalyst for action, in what is the Year of the Nurse and Midwife”.

Subsequent to graduating as a nurse, Patricia worked for eleven years in coronary care settings in New York. Figures of COVID-19 are much higher in the Big Apple with 215k cases and 17k deaths. She is confident Ennis will be able to cater for a second wave of the virus if it emerges. Upskilling staff in new areas and the use of “a buddy system” for staff are ways in which they can prepare, Patricia stated.

“Having prepared for the first COVID surge we have learnt how resilient we are as a staff group. We worked well together and managed the COVID change necessary to support the patients. We have the training and experience of managing patients who were COVID positive or suspects. As the patient outcomes were good in Ennis, we would feel ready for the second wave. We hope if this comes that we will have had the opportunity for a rest and we will be ready”.

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