'We're very alone in this' - Nightingale Nursing Home appeals for help

The director of nursing at a Galway nursing home, which has seen all but two of its residents tes...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.58 22 Oct 2020

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'We're very alone in this' - N...

'We're very alone in this' - Nightingale Nursing Home appeals for help

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.58 22 Oct 2020

Share this article

The director of nursing at a Galway nursing home, which has seen all but two of its residents test positive for the coronavirus, says they have been left on their own.

The major COVID-19 outbreak happened at Nightingale Nursing Home.

A resident of the home was admitted to hospital last Thursday for a non-COVID related illness - but subsequently tested positive for the virus.


As a consequence all residents and staff in the nursing home were tested.

As a result, 26 out of 28 residents and all but four staff had tested positive.

There has been one nurse and carer available in last 72 hours, as the affected staff have had to self-isolate at home.

One resident has also died.

Infection prevention and control teams and staff from the HSE have been sent there.

The Health Minister Stephen Donnelly earlier said he was aware of the situation.

Patricia McGowan, the director of nursing at the home, is also self-isolating after a positive test.

She told The Hard Shoulder the HSE did not listen.

"We've been in contact with them since the results came in really - we're in daily contact with them - and their first response to us was 'Get agency staff'.

"We've done that, we've tried to get agency staff, it was part of our contingency plan that if we couldn't re-deploy staff to different shifts or whatever that we would get on to agencies".

"They just aren't out there, and we've told the HSE that we have tried to source these people and we can't find them.

"It's just very frustrating for me because I'm not there, I can't sort anything out, I can't help in any way.

"I just feel we're very alone in this - that's how I would describe it, we are alone".

She said the HSE did send someone out, but no 'hands-on help'.

"The infection control nurse did come out, she walked around the nursing home, she told us where we had the correct bags placed or the incorrect bags placed.

"She looked at facilities like our sanitiser and that kind of thing, she wasn't hands-on help, she wasn't telling us anything we didn't know.

"She wasn't hands-on help - while she was a very kind and lovely girl and all that, but she was no help to us.

"We need boots on the ground, essentially".

She broke down as she described how a number of residents told staff they thought they were going to die.

"I suppose like any nursing home, residents have varying degrees of ability to understand these things.

"But a lot of our residents are very clued in to matters - they read the newspapers everyday, they watch the news on the television everyday - they know what this virus is.

"And there are a number of them that have said to the staff 'I'm think I'm going to die' - what do you say to that?"

'We have people to try and keep alive'

She said she does not know how the nurse on duty is "still standing".

"We've done everything they've asked us to do, we've tried everything they've asked us to try.

"And they're telling Marie when she rings to say 'The staff you promised me this morning didn't show up, they are not here.'

"And essentially the response we get is 'Don't panic, leave it with me'.

"We don't have that luxury, we can't leave it with them: we have people to look after, we have people to try and keep alive, that's the bottom line.

"We're not messing here, we are looking after vulnerable people who have COVID-19 and we want them to stay alive, and we need help to do that".

She said the two staff on duty "don't even get to drink, they don't even get to take a breath of air outside, and they're not going to last".

"If any of those people that have told us 'Don't panic, leave it with me' would they be happy if we said that to their mother if they were a resident in the nursing home?

"I don't think so".

"I have no words for it - I just can't understand that a country can treat its older people this way.

"They've contributed to the system that we have for decades and decades and decades, and it seems to me that that's incidental.

"'OK you've played your part, your usefulness is over now' - that's how I feel.

"I may be misrepresenting the general gist of things but that's how I feel my residents are being treated and I'm not happy.

"I'm not well, I'm not happy, and my residents are not well and they're not happy".

'There was no agency staff'

Galway GP Dr Martin Daly, who broke the story on Twitter, said the home had asked for help.

"They began to get worried on Monday because the courtier of staff they required to provide service to the residents was now greatly diminished.

"They made contact with the HSE looking for help, and they were told that there was no help available and that they were to try agency staff.

"There was no agency staff available.

"So yesterday one of my patients who is a resident of the nursing home, became ill and died - he was COVID positive.

"Thankfully they looked after him very well and he died peacefully.

"But again the tension was heightened because this morning, two more residents - one a patient of mine and one of another GP - became ill, both requiring an admission to hospital.

"At that time I spoke to the nurse and she had been 72 hours on duty without a break, with one other healthcare worker and two non-healthcare worker support staff - one a chef and one another co-worker - it is desperate".

'We're very alone in this' - Nightingale Nursing Home appeals for help

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Agency Staff Coronavirus Covid-19 Dr Martin Daly Galway Hse Nightingale Nursing Home Outbreak Patricia McGowan Residents Staff The Hard Shoulder

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