Hospital doctor in Portlaoise postpones her wedding to serve at the Covid-19 frontline

Day in the life of a Covid-19 junior doctor at the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise

Dr Laura Hennessy, Senior House Officer, Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise


Dr Laura Hennessy, Senior House Officer, Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise

coronavirus covid-19

Dr Laura Hennessy,

I am a Medical Senior House Officer in Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise.

I’m on my six month rotation in Portlaoise as part of my St James’s training program and I’m also the current co Lead NCHD (Non-Consultant Hospital Doctor). Today, Sunday, I am working a 24 hour shift but my shifts can vary from 8/12/22/24hrs.

The Sunday 24 hour shift starts at 11:30am so I try sleep in that morning to bank some hours for later.

I get up, have my breakfast, pack my food for my shift and I am out the door. When I get to the hospital I head straight to the lockers where I change into my scrubs, pop on my stethoscope and get my bleep from reception.

At this point, I join my team who has been on duty for the previous 24 hours. They are still doing the ward rounds with the consultant of the new patients who have been admitted on their shift.

I then sort through what jobs need to be done and what patients are to be discharged etc following investigations, allowing last nights on-call team to get home for some well-deserved rest.

An Emergency Department COVID-19 Streaming Process is currently operating in the hospital where presentations to the ED are pre-triaged and streamed into a ‘suspect COVID-19 related’ or ‘non COVID-19 related’ patient pathways.

I go to the ‘suspect COVID-19’ to see what patients the emergency doctors have referred to me and continue to do this throughout my shift. It involves a lot of ‘donning’ and ‘doffing’ PPE, thankfully something that we have had a very good supply here. MORE BELOW IMAGE.

I am also washing my hands so often that they feel stiff after a while but it is so crucially important that we don’t slack in this.

Working in the Emergency Department and throughout the hospital, in general, there is a good sense of camaraderie amongst the staff, from nurses, doctors, healthcare assistants, porters, cleaners, kitchen staff, administration and reception, we are very much all in this together.

While we have “buddies” to make sure our PPE is on or to help bag the bloods after they’ve been taken, there is a true sense of the bonds with our colleagues being strengthened since we have had to face the virus here at MRHP.

Whilst today I’m the SHO covering the ‘COVID query’ patients, there’s another SHO who is dealing with the non-covid patients in a separate area. Not to forget the intern who is also there during the day on the weekend, the registrar and the extra medical SHO and registrar we have at night as well.

We have all taken on an extra rota which has more than doubled our on call shifts since late March so that we are best prepared for whatever comes our way. And we have been very lucky to have the staff. It can be really busy at times but we have a great team here. more below picture of Dr Hennessy on duty.

I do try to get some rest if time allows during my shift in the on-call room. And of course, it’s very important to get proper food breaks along with the tea and snacks that usually happen on a night shift!

Ireland has done amazingly well to be where we are now. But it hasn’t been without sacrifices on all our parts.

I’ve missed out on my wedding which was due to be next month and some exams I was eager to get over with.

Instead, I’ve been working in the hospital and enjoying the countryside of Laois as I am not allowed to be anywhere else! I hope people continue to be strong and remember the importance of handwashing, respiratory hygiene and social distancing.

I, like many others, would love to hug my parents and grandparents; but for now the best thing I can do to protect them is to follow the guidance from the government. It would be terrible for us to give the virus a chance of resurgence and us only to go back to where we started.

So many lives have already been saved by the measures everyone has taken and people should be proud of their efforts. I hope the reports of low cases and deaths from COVID-19 will encourage people to hold firm, wear masks where appropriate and embrace our new normal with the same resilience that we approached the virus earlier in the year. Keep up the good work!