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‘Our Christmas was turned upside down’


RADIO INTERVIEWCatherine Donohoe, General Manager, Mayo University Hospital.

Edwin McGreal

The husband of a nurse who contracted covid-19 while working at the Mayo University Hospital has expressed deep frustration with hospital management.
The man, who does not want to be named, said he and his family had just endured ‘the worst Christmas ever’ after she tested positive in the days before Christmas.
He said his wife was one of a number of nurses who picked up the virus after coming into close contact with a patient who tested positive for the virus in the hospital.
He added that some of those nurses who were deemed close contacts were brought back to work after a first negative test, only to test positive in their second close-contact test.
The man said he had to move out of the house and live some miles away after all the couple’s children, who are all in national school, also tested positive, while he tested negative.
He had to watch his children opening their Christmas presents through the window of the house.
“Our Christmas was turned upside down. It was the worst Christmas ever. My wife is at her wit’s end and I cannot go into the house to help,” he told The Mayo News.
He said that physically his wife and children are recovering but the episode has taken a mental toll.

The nurse’s husband said that he was moved to speak out after listening to an interview on Midwest Radio yesterday (Monday) with the General Manager of Mayo University Hospital, Catherine Donohoe. He said he feels Ms Donohoe was blaming staff for bringing the virus in.
In the interview, Ms Donohoe said: “We have been lucky as a site to date, the impact on our staffing has been less than some other sites. It is starting to pinch now because our staff Covid will reflect the rate of positivity in the community. We are starting to see now some of our staff have had contacts in the community and they have to isolate as a result of that.”
He took issue with this, criticising how Covid-19 is managed at the hospital.
“To hear Catherine Donohoe on Midwest effectively saying staff are bringing it in from the community when they allowed staff back to work while still awaiting a test result … And that some of them ended up testing positive? It is infuriating.
“Staff are so fearful for patients. They’ve spent all year being so careful, thinking so much of patients and then they’ve to hear them practically being blamed for cases in the hospital and no hands up from the hospital at all for their hand in what has happened … it makes you so angry. Look at my, Christmas and then to be practically told it’s our fault? It’s infuriating.
“My wife was told who the patient was that they believed was the cause of it.
“To not be able to hug my kids on Christmas Day after Santa came … It’s so tough. Management at the hospital are pathetic,” he said.

The Mayo News put several questions regarding management at MUH to the Saolta (North West) Hospital Group, which has responsibility for MUH along with other hospitals in the northwest.
In its response, received after our print edition was published, a spokesperson for Saolta said that all employees should restrict their movements and stay at home if identified as a close contact.
“Healthcare workers who develop respiratory symptoms or who are identified as close contacts of a confirmed case must self-isolate (if they have symptoms) or restrict their movements/stay at home, (if close contacts) and stay off work. Even if their Covid-19 test result is negative, they must continue to restrict their movements for 14 days. No close contacts should attend for work. No derogations have been given for staff who are close contacts to remain at work,” they stated.