Hospital staff put HSE to shame

Professor Garry Courtney: A brave and caring leader

IT IS not the type of experience that one would have as a priority on any bucket list of life.

It wasn’t intimidating, nor was it uncomfortable but it did set the mind meandering down many roads, some of them quite thought provoking.

Will all be okay was the poser that predominated?

Sitting in a Medical Assessment Unit can be quite interesting, feeling jittery, wondering what any prognosis will throw up.

For most, it is a journey into the unknown, a raffle of sorts maybe where you are hoping that your ticket will bring a box of chocolates rather than any wooden spoon.

The visit was certainly an eye opener. What’s seldom was not exactly wonderful but it was educational, insightful and provided an peek into a world which, let’s be honest, very few of us know anything about.

Our hospital, so patient-friendly

Any such medical unit is the sort of place that most of us know exists but hope that we will never have any use for it.

Yet, when push comes to shove, all roads lead to St Luke’s General Hospital and a real eye opener as to the wonderful work that goes on 24/7 in a giant edifice of hope that houses so many complex branches of medicine.

The tone was set for our visit minutes only after we entered the building.

After less than five minutes in a waiting room, well before 9am, the admissions office opened and a young bespectacled man was warm, friendly and even jovial.

He was not only professional, he was caring and helpful too and proved to be a welcome ice-breaker.

We were still clogged with apprehension but the welcome on the mat served to ease any raised hypertension.

That trend continued when we were called to the inner sanctum, the busy room where it all happens, from where most will pray that they will emerge singing rather than clutching any wound.

First stop was a question and answer session, then blood samples, blood pressure tested, heart readings taken and the offer of a cup of tea.

The ladies who tended to us were super, chatty, warm, encouraging and knew exactly where all their duties lay in a patient’s probe.

Small rooms, complete with examination bed, medical equipment and a comfortable armchair to sit on and twiddle your thumbs as you awaited the  next stage of your tests.

A young woman arrived with a bundle of brochures. She was delivering a message, call it propaganda if like, but very educational, totally unlike political or military waffle but rather a love letter to the aged.

End PJ paralysis was the positive emissary.

It encouraged get up, get dressed and get moving.

The caller had knocked on the right door.

Positivity prevailed.

A routine x-ray had led to the CT Scan Room for a deeper look at the workings of the body.

The wait was hardly exciting as one was one of a few patients in the superbly clean unit not to be buzzing around like a proverbial bee.

Watching nurses, carers, cleaners, doctors and other staff diligently doing their duties was something special.

Tea breaks or a quick escape for any demon fag puff certainly didn’t seem to be on any agenda.

Patients poured in with myriad ailments and it was all hands to the pump.

Eventually the call came, the rather short amble from the unit to the Cat Scan Department, accompanied by a chatty hospital guide.

Then came a short wait and the opportunity to read the Kilkenny Reporter which was so prominent in all waiting areas.

Two minutes and we will look after you, was the reminder from a member of the radiology staff.

And two minutes it was.

Off with the jumper, down with the braces and hop on board.

Having been through the Cat Scan Experience before, the drill as expounded by a so kind and helpful radiologist, was familiar territory.

She was so respectful, explaining all procedures, encouraging you to relax and take your time, that the experience almost became a mother and son routine.

If there was any chink in hospital armour then it certainly hadn’t yet hadn’t raised its ugly head.

Job done, back to the Assessment Unit for the waiting game.

It wasn’t long before the news was delivered by a doctor who seemed so happy that the message was a positive one that the outcome was to have a nostalgic ending.

Any dark cloud that may have descended as results hung in the balance now disappeared and a new found hunger was sated with hospital soup and sandwich.

And we promised not to forget to remember the amazingly dedicated people who make St Luke’s Hospital tick.

The staffs were not good.

It was magnificent.

Inevitably, a debate was born.

If only the Health Service Executive had the same interest in the patients as is demonstrated by dedicated hospital staff, what a wonderful world it would be.

We salute those great people who were so kind, not only to ourselves, but to all the men and women who came in with their medical stories that they hoped would have a positive ending.

We had nothing but admiration for the hospital staff as we ambled to the car park.

We said how unfair it was that these people are facing into what could be  a winter of discontent as hospital trolleys will again bring harrowing headlines and lack of hospital beds will again be agony for so many as so-called caring politicians do what they have done for years.

The bleating will continue, disgraceful, something has to be done, hospital staff deserve better, patients are being put through savage hardship.

The waffle started God only knows how many years ago and will continue for the remaining months of 2018 and into 2019.

In the meantime the brilliant teams at St Luke’s Hospital, despite being desperately understaffed, will man the front lines, display care and love as they do their utmost for the ill and aged.

And hospital leader, Clinical Director, Professor Garry Courtney will tear his hair out as he tries to make two plus two into five.

He is obviously a man of courage and commitment, and somehow helps to perform Herculean miracles in tandem with his medical missionaries.

If only our health officials and politicians had the same respect for staff as hospital employees have for patients.

We can only hope and pray.

In the meantime we should always be ready to muster support for hospital staff who deserve to be paid properly and treated with dignity.