UNIVERSITY Hospital Limerick has taken delivery of a critical care trolley to safely transfer the region’s sickest children.
It follows a dinner hosted in Paris’ Pavillon Dauphine by the Ireland Fund of France earlier in the year - and at which €28,000 was raised to purchase equipment for the Children’s Ark, the paediatric unit at the hospital.
The Wild Geese dinner is a biennial function traditionally held on the eve of the France-Ireland Six Nations match in the French capital.
Frank Keane, directorate manager, maternal and child health, UL Hospitals, said the Children’s Ark had benefitted thanks to initial contacts between Beryl Carswell, who works in the Ark’s play department, and Ann Garvey, a native of Shannon now working with the Ireland Fund in Paris.
“They informed us about this Wild Geese dinner that was being held on the night before the Ireland-France international last March. It was a fundraising event and they were considering adopting, if you like, the Children’s Ark as the charity of choice and, basically, what did we need. That could have been a massive list so we put it out to the staff and the nurses came back with a solution and the greatest need,” said Mr Keane.
That turned out to be a paediatric critical care transport trolley.
It was left to consultant paediatrician Dr John Twomey, who was going to Paris for the match, to represent the Children’s Ark at the function.
“It was a daunting exercise, I have to say,” said Dr Twomey.
“I thought my Leaving Cert French was up to scratch but apparently it is not. I rehearsed and was told that ‘whatever you just said, don’t say it again’. And then of course a certain Mr Ronan O’Gara (now of Racing Metro in Paris) was there as well; who is fluent and who started effortlessly talking in French. There I was thinking ‘God, I have to follow that’.”
However he managed to explain the need in Limerick for a paediatric critical care trolley, it seemed to have done the trick as thousands of euro in donations rolled in from the French and the Irish alike.
The trolley, he explained, can be adjusted to cater for any child, including babies who can be ventilated and transported in a pod which fits on top.
It will be used not only to transfer critically ill children in Limerick by ambulance to other hospitals but also “to transfer patients from one department to another within the hospital, if they need a CT scan for example”.
“It is certainly something we will make great use of and it certainly will speed up the transfer of critically ill patients to where they need to go. Time is of essence. To get them to where they need to be in a safe manner as quickly as possible - and this will certainly help us in that regard,” said Dr Twomey.
Juliette MacSweeny, clinical nurse manager in the Rainbow Ward, also thanked the Ireland Fund of France for their support.
Nursing staff in Limerick had known for some time that having this piece of equipment would be of great benefit.
“When you are travelling in that ambulance with a child, you are very much on your own. You are there with the child and the doctor travelling with you. You have your equipment but you are responsible for what is going on in the ambulance. To make it safe is all we wanted to do,” said Ms McSweeny.
As the Wild Geese dinner had such strong rugby connections, Mr Keane said it was appropriate that Munster and Ireland’s Paul O’Connell and Keith Earls were invited to the presentation.
“Every child on Sunshine Ward has met them. I have no doubt that meeting and the joy it brings to the kids is as good as some of the medicine we get around the place or it is worth as much of them,” said Mr Keane.
Helen Lambert, president of the Ireland Fund of France, said: “we wanted to ensure that the funds raised would make a difference to the lives of people in Limerick. We were delighted to have the support of organisations and businesses from the Mid-West for the fundraising dinner with prizes donated by Munster Rugby Club, the Strand Hotel Limerick, Shannon Heritage, Shannon Airport and Dromoland Castle”.