Covid – one health worker’s story
As part of the RESPECT = RECOGNITION campaign by the group of unions representing health service workers, we reached out to a few Fórsa members to tell us about their experience of working during the Covid pandemic. JACKIE BROWN works in emergency department admin at one of Dublin’s main acute hospitals, and provided this thoughtful account.
The experience of working at the frontline, in an emergency department during the Covid pandemic, has been both challenging and rewarding. For this generation it’s changed the world and how we work.
In January 2020 the world didn’t realise exactly what the virus was, or how quickly it was to change the health systems so radically and so quickly. When Covid-19 was declared a pandemic by the WHO it changed everything, and steamrolled through our lives. Very quickly the hospitals had to adapt. The rapid changes brought fear of the unknown. We were waiting, and preparing, with a sense of impending doom.
The emergency department became the epicentre of the virus. We were so fearful at the beginning. Like the rest of the country during that first lockdown, we got on with our work. As we tackled the virus day-by-day, the days turned into weeks, the weeks into months. Looking back now, the scale of its impact would’ve been almost impossible to imagine.
Fear also turned to adrenaline and helped drive all of us. Our clinical colleagues, and everyone in our departments, pulled together to support each other and maintain a service. There was no vaccine. Our PPE was the only the barrier between us and the virus. We worked throughout, the fear always in the background, but we knew we had to provide a service, people were counting on us.
Fear also turned to adrenaline and helped drive all of us. Our clinical colleagues, and everyone in our departments, pulled together to support each other and maintain a service. There was no vaccine. Our PPE was the only the barrier between us and the virus.
Like all other frontline workers who continued in their post in other sectors, we each felt a duty of care. It was not just a job. We were driven by a sense of coming together, to continue what we could, to play our part and help society to keep going.
Always at the back of our minds was the question of catching the virus. The sad reality is that some of our colleagues lost their lives. There was the added fear of taking the virus home. But we had to suppress any fear, and I could see everyone doing the same. Human strength prevails in many situations and the pandemic certainly brought that to the fore.
The elation, delight and relief that came with the early roll-out of vaccinations was palpable among my colleagues. It ran with military precision, providing an indication what was to come now that we can see how well Ireland has performed in its national vaccine programme.
We were so grateful to be vaccinated. But still the fear of taking it home to our families remained, until our vulnerable family members received the same protection.
The pandemic remains a challenge. It changed us. And it brought out the best in our health care workers. We stood together, united, and look forward to brighter days ahead.