Gerry Keogh, Maintenance Supervisor on the job at Portlaoise hospital
Hello, my name is Gerry Keogh and I am the Maintenance Supervisor in Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise.
All of our lives have changed so much in these last few months with the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the running of the maintenance of the hospital.
Things changed very rapidly at the start but we are all getting used to the ‘new normal’ here now.
I start my shift at 8:15am so leave the house around 7:30am. I only live 20km from the hospital.
When I get to the hospital now I have my temperature checked and a check for COVID-19 symptoms.
Regular hand washing and using hand sanitizer has always been important in the hospital but has become much more of a focus to protect ourselves and our patients…so before I do anything I give my hands another wash and then go to the Maintenance Office.
We have a system where anything that happens during the night that needs attention is flagged by the night staff so the first thing I do is work through the pending requests and prioritise the workload.
These can vary from electrical faults, plumbing issues, carpentry and general operatives such as block drains and spillages.
The Maintenance Department consists of a team of electricians, plumbers and general operatives.
I delegate the workload out to the team which also includes clinical waste and this has hugely increased with the extra PPE needed during the pandemic.
We have a 24-hour emergency line for urgent issues that need to be seen to, with an electrician and plumber on call to keep essential services such as medical air, lighting, heating, hot water and all critical functions going. Anything urgent would have been dealt with the night before.
Once the day’s work is assigned we also have to check in with every department regularly to monitor the hospital for any issues that need attention.
Specifically, since the pandemic maintenance of the hot water supply and the air conditioning system needs to be checked more regularly.
We have installed extra medical air points as part of our preparation plans for Covid-19. We have also installed many extra hand gel dispensers throughout the hospital.
At about 10:30am I take a 15-minute tea break. The team takes staggered breaks now to help with social distancing so now just 3 or 4 of us take our break together. I take my lunch break about 1:15pm in the staff canteen.
They have extended the service hours to have less people there, again to assist with social distancing.
Given the current visitor restrictions in the hospital, we have a lot of work in securing the building with extra access controls being installed and monitored and also 24/7 security presence at the main entrance to the hospital and the Outpatients Department.
Visiting may be allowed in extenuating circumstances, such as people visiting patients at end of life or in critical care, but this is at the discretion of
Nursing Administration and has to be pre-arranged. We are doing everything we can to protect our patients.
I finish up around 5pm but can be on the phone to give advice if the team needs me. In my free time now I like to work on the garden or go for a walk.
All of our social options are fairly limited lately but I do enjoy the Laois countryside, so it’s not so bad.
The public has been fantastic at sticking to the government's guidelines so far.
COVID-19 is still a highly infectious disease so the team at Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise are urging people to hold firm.
Remember to wash your hands well and often, practice good cough and sneeze etiquette, keep your two meters social distance from others and look out for the symptoms of COVID-19 and call your GP if you are concerned.