'Take it seriously': Longford doctor at the frontline of Covid-19 pandemic

Washing hands is the easiest way to avoid transmission, says Dr Aisling Farrell

Jessica Thompson

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Jessica Thompson

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jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

'Take it seriously': Longford doctor at the frontline of Covid-19 pandemic

Longford doctor and former Longford Rose Aisling Farrell has revealed what it's like to work as a hospital doctor during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Aisling is currently based in Cork University Hospital, which she says has "drastically transformed" since the first Covid-19 case was confirmed in Cork last week.

In a post on her Instagram page, the Longford woman described the situation in Italy as "frightening" and said that patients are being triaged by their age and co-morbidities when it comes to deciding whether or not they will receive life-saving treatment.

Read also: Healthy people should be mindful of the more vulnerable, says Longford GP

"People (in Italy) are being treated on corridors, operating theatres and in many cases tents erected outside hospital grounds. And that is only the tip of the iceberg and what we are seeing on social media. The reality is many people are dying simply because there is not enough resources or staff to adequately treat everyone," she said.

"We are currently where Italy was 3 weeks ago. So what are we doing about it? How are we preparing? Everyone knows about the current visitor restrictions, cancelled outpatient appointments and non-urgent procedures. This is to protect our vulnerable patients and prevent transmission. What may not be public knowledge is how the environment in our hospital has changed.

"People are working together like never before. Patients that no longer need acute care are being transferred to step down units. Our health care professionals and discharge staff are working around the clock to expedite investigations and facilitate discharge. Acute hospital beds are now being cleared in an efficient and timely manner in anticipation of the sick patients that will be coming our way in the coming weeks and potentially months."

Read also: ‘Incremental measures can amount to a huge impact’, when preventing the spread of Coronavirus says Longford GP

Hand hygiene has been made a priority like never before, Aisling added, and knowing how to use personal protective equipment is an essential skill.

"Doctors are wearing scrubs to reduce the risk of community transmission. As medical registrars and SHOs, we are currently being upskilled in intensive care training in anticipation of having to preform the work of anaesthetists at ward level, as is the case in Italy," she said.

The former Longford Rose said that she is concerned about Covid-19 because it's something the world has never dealt with and the surge of cases is putting huge pressure on the health care service, with more pressure yet to come.

"We are doing our utmost to prepare but the public also need to be proactive," said Dr Farrell.

"It's the sentence we're all saying again and again but please... wash your hands. It is the most simple way to prevent transmission.

Read also: Get information about coronavirus from health experts not social media warns Longford doctor

"Elderly and those with underlying health conditions should stay away from public gatherings. And those who have been told to self-isolate, take it seriously. It is not an excuse to take a week off work. It is an essential precautionary step to avoid further spread of this pandemic.

"No one knows how this is going to pan out. All we can do is prepare ourselves as best we can and follow the advice of our public health and infectious disease colleagues guiding us through Covid-19."

View this post on Instagram

Being a hospital doctor during the COVID-19 pandemic. What is it really like on the front line? . The last week has been like no other I’ve ever experienced working as a hospital doctor. Since the first COVID-19 confirmed case last week in Cork, the hospital has drastically transformed. . . The situation presently in Italy is frightening. Patients are being triaged by their age and co-morbidities as to whether they will receive life saving treatment or not. People are being treated on corridors, operating theatres and in many cases tents erected outside hospital grounds. And that is only the tip of the icebearg and what we are seeing on social media. The reality is many people are dying simply because there is not enough resources or staff to adequately treat everyone. . . We are currently where Italy was 3 weeks ago. So what are we doing about it? How are we preparing? . . Everyone knows about the current visitor restrictions, cancelled outpatient appointments and non-urgent procedures. This is to protect our vulnerable patients and prevent transmission. What may not be public knowledge is how the environment in our hospital has changed. People are working together like never before. Patients that no longer need acute care are being transferred to step down units. Our health care professionals and discharge staff are working around the clock to expedite investigations and facilitate discharge. Acute hospital beds are now being cleared in an efficient and timely manner in anticipation of the sick patients that will be coming our way in the coming weeks and potentially months. . Hand hygiene has been made a priority like never before. The knowledge of how to use personal protective equipment is an essential skill. Doctors are wearing scrubs to reduce the risk of community transmission. As medical registrars and SHOs, we are currently being upskilled in intensive care training in anticipation of having to preform the work of anaesthetists at ward level, as is the case in Italy. . . Am I concerned about COVID-19? Yes. (Continued in comments)

A post shared by ✨Dr Aisling Farrell ✨ (@aisling_far) on