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The Fabric of Modern-Day Heroes - Part 1

on June 15, 2021

GFW is an Irish based company specialised in ethical performance work wear solutions inspired by our healthcare professionals! 

Given the extended timeline and implications of the Covid-19 Pandemic, we know how your outstanding commitment and presence have comforted the patients and the public, at a time of unprecedented worry and concern for everyone involved.

Other than crafting healthcare tunics for you, we would like to further acknowledge and honor your dedication through a series of posts focusing on you. So today, we stop to think of you, our dear healthcare worker, by asking a couple of questions and listen to your experience and feelings.

The first professional to answer our call is GW, Ophthalmic Clinical Nurse Specialist, working in one of the largest teaching hospitals in Dublin. Our guest has been caring for patients for over 30 years, and when asked how the last year has been for her, she recalls how the start of the Covid -19 Pandemic came as an unsettling wave of nervousness and responsibility. This was further amplified by the global reports on the news, of countries and health systems not being able to cope and with a low supply of PPE.

“It was the scariest time of my life, I felt very apprehensive going into work. I didn’t know what to expect or what was ahead of me. Despite this feeling, I felt a sense of togetherness with my colleagues and we put our best foot forward” #InThisTogether

GW tells how the work atmosphere was filled with fear of not knowing what was going to happen, fear of getting the Covid or giving the Covid.  Still, things started to shift when she saw how the hospital was dealing with the big challenge ahead. The hospital promptly responded by developing guidelines and protocols that started to come into place.

The hospital was very quick at up skilling staff, training and educating on hand hygiene, physical distancing and correct use of face masks. From my perspective, how the hospital came together made me very proud!”

In her own emergency department, the service was managed in such a way that safety of patients and staff was paramount. Emergencies were dealt with swiftly and promptly and depending on their triage were treated and reviewed in the department or virtually. This was a challenge but worked very well. A new skill set was put in place and it was a wonderful learning opportunity and people adapted well to.

Our guest reports that communication within her organisation was the most important action that alleviated the fear propagated through the media channels:

Communication was excellent, we were getting up to date reports from our heads of department and the CEO which gave us confidence, it changed the atmosphere within two weeks! At department level, the reform felt positive, and winning at managing the situation!”

Another challenge was the communication on a one-to-one level.  Adhering to public health guidelines (the wearing of face masks and social distancing) meant staff was faced with a new communication barrier.

We had to abstain from our sense of touch and the whole experience with social distancing is exactly the opposite of what nursing interaction is. Helping and dealing with the patients, you miss the touch, the hand on arm reassurance. During the pandemic, the visually impaired were also affected by restricted use of touch and as healthcare professionals we needed to heighten our awareness of this”

“You can say a lot with words to get your point across, or to diffuse a situation, the tone of voice, the time, and not rushing all the time!”

During the lockdown the nation was a source of inspiration and comfort to each other. There were many service leaders in her own department and in the hospital that led the way.

“I was inspired by my colleagues and patients. For some of our patients, we were the first people they had seen in four months; their loneliness ran so deep… people were happy to see hospital staff! I was also inspired by schools and communities who sent in thank you cards and artwork for the work being done in the hospital which felt very humbling“

For GW, navigating the pandemic while having her own family to support her was the most important thing - Scared of bringing Covid-19 into the house, she implemented measures in her own home to protect her family and herself.

“I felt very aware of patients loneliness and isolation during this pandemic and the affect it had on people’s mental health”

I asked our guest how we could ever thank healthcare workers for their heroic response and for risking their lives to care for others. Here, it is sensible to remember that no one entered the hospital arena in a quest for self destruction, but to help others at their most vulnerable, within their own physical and psychological limits. The Covid-19 service tribute from President Higgins was received warmly, and boosted the spirits just in time before facing another wave of restrictions and people getting sick:

The medal from President Higgins, was a wonderful gesture to cherish, you were recognised for the work you were doing! The presentation box and letter were received by every link within the hospital, something to enjoy and remember; it was brilliant!”

Reflecting on the whole Covid-19 Pandemic, it is a life changing experience, and front-line workers dealt with it head on. Still, finding ways to improve the services made our guest feel that with her team, they can meet any challenge.

We learnt an awful lot, and supported each other, it made us a lot kinder, I hope we will remember that in our new normal!”

We thank our guest for generously sharing her time and thoughts, and remain deeply grateful for her remarkable sense of care and duty. Also, it is always good to be reminded that we should always be there for each other, in any capacity. Precisely, we have a moral obligation to fulfil towards our healthcare workers and their wellbeing, and support them in their efforts by at least respecting public health guidelines.

What is your experience of working through the Pandemic? How were things for you?

If you would like to share them with us, you can send us a line at info@gfw.ie