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‘It really is a monumental day’: Vaccine arrives at Covid-free care facility in Limerick village

‘It really is a monumental day’: Vaccine arrives at Covid-free care facility in Limerick village

Denise McEvoy, director of nursing and Geraldine Clancy, staff nurse, with the boxes of the vaccine after they arrived at Riverbrook

TWENTY two residents and 30 staff at a nursing and respite care facility in Castleconnell were among the first people in Limerick to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

The vaccines arrived on Wednesday of last week and were administered last Friday.

“It really is a monumental day,” commented Donogh McCarthy, managing director, Riverbrook Nursing & Respite Care on Friday.

“We have had no Covid here whatsoever since the pandemic started. Today marks day 316 since we made the decision to close the doors here. There has been a light at the end of the tunnel all along but it just got a lot brighter, ” he added.

The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine was stored in the fridge at the Castleconnell facility since it was delivered on Wednesday. The HSE arrived at the facility on Thursday evening to examine the facilities. They then arrived at 8.30am on Friday to administer the vaccine - five of them in total.

“After paperwork was checked and all the administration work was done, the vaccination measure was checked by two staff and was administered. The resident then goes into another room where they are monitored by a HSE doctor and a nurse for 15 minutes. It was very well done,” Donogh explained. The second dose of the vaccine is due in three weeks time.

“Everyone must sign a consent form and some people obviously have the consent form signed on their behalf. Everyone signed up for it,” said Donogh.

The achievement of keeping Riverbrook Covid-free to date, is, Donogh says, “99% down to hard work and diligence maximised by the staff, and one percent luck”.

“The staff would go home, shower, change clothes - they were absolutely regimental as regards their own hand hygiene. They limited their contacts and kept themselves in their bubble at home. They naturally found it hard, they most certainly did. They should have been sharing time with more family members at Christmas time but they gave up on that. They made a lot of sacrifices - they didn’t go away on breaks, some of them just took extended time at Christmas because they hadn’t taken anything during the summer.”

Staff have been extremely cautious about who can enter the care facility. Visiting has been greatly restricted. At present, the team at Riverbrook have no guidance as to when visitors will be permitted to see the residents inside the facility.

“All things will come in due course. At the moment, we have window visiting only, except on exceptional compassionate grounds. Most of the residents know what’s going on. Those with Alzheimer's or dementia have a small awareness of the situation. They definitely miss their loved ones but we have a full-time entertainment coordinator, Monica, and she is just a God-send, fierce energising doing the physical activities. The antibiotic use here has fallen significantly with increased standard precautions in infection control such as hand washing and the reduced numbers of visitors. The overall nursing home population here is healthier.”

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