Nursing home director lives in ‘parallel universe’ while desperately battling virus


As the pandemic hit in early 2020, a sense of fear and uncertainty was felt throughout society, and in settings such as nursing homes, that anxiety was heightened by the real threat it poses. what Covid-19 has caused to people.

rían McNamara (43 years old) runs Greenpark Nursing Home in Tuam, Co Galway, a residential facility founded by parents Brian and Cora in 1991.

Mr. McNamara has worked at Greenpark for nearly 20 years and took over the family business two years ago.

He said that when the coronavirus first hit Europe, there was a lot of anxiety among staff and residents, especially as it led to the deaths of many elderly people in parts of Italy and Spain. In the first batch.

“Some of the images from those places are very scary and we are starting to get very worried for our own residents.

“Just before the Government introduced the restrictive measures, we started putting up signs asking people to note if they have traveled anywhere or if they are unwell do not visit the nursing home. old man.

“Then the access restrictions started in early March and that’s after.”

Mr. McNamara said that with the infection control measures they put in place, they managed to get through the initial waves of the pandemic effectively, not to break out.

“We put in a visitation zone during a parade on the side of the nursing home, so people don’t actually walk through the building.

“People can visit through the screen so they can still see family members by appointment.

“However, before Christmas (2020) we could see the numbers running high and we have to end all visits again.”

However, tragedy struck in early 2021 when variant B. 117 swept through Ireland.

At the time, the health service was under the greatest pressure of any time during the pandemic and outbreaks were reported in nursing homes across Ireland.

Greenpark is no exception, and the highly contagious strain of the virus made its way inside the facility just days before many residents arrived to receive their first doses of the vaccine.

“In an instant, we went into total lockdown as if we were having an outbreak.

“We did the PCR test the next day, and the day after the tests were done we had four positive cases and from there an avalanche happened.”

The tidal wave of cases then saw 35 of the 49 residents contract the virus over a three-week period.

Twelve of those infected died, including four in two separate 24-hour windows.

Mr McNamara said that watching people die from Covid-19 was “really difficult to accept” but the tragedy was further complicated by how quickly it happened.

He explained that the medical staff had retired from the local and HSE agent staff came to their aid and covered the shift while the employee was ill.

The help they receive from HSE and locals means they can continue to care for their residents.

The facility had to wait 28 days after the last positive case was deemed cleared of the outbreak.

“I remember getting an email from HSE who said you had an outbreak right now and I was just sitting in my office crying. It felt like we were taking a break for a few minutes,” said Mr. McNamara.

“It’s hard to describe that relief unless you’re actually living it, and it’s like living in a parallel universe.”

Thankfully, residents of Greenpark began their first doses of the vaccine in the months that followed, and Mr McNamara said vaccination was a “complete game changer”.

The facility had another outbreak in September 2021 when two employees and two residents tested positive but “everyone else is fine.”

While certain safety improvements – such as appointments and wearing masks – remain the new norm “life is getting back to normal”, he said.

“Our residents are much happier.” Nursing home director lives in ‘parallel universe’ while desperately battling virus

Fry Electronics Team

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