A nursing lecturer who has returned to the frontline during the pandemic has urged the public to stop leaving their 5km area, saying she is shocked by the amount of traffic she sees outside Cork University Hospital as staff attempt to save lives onsite.
Dr Angela Flynn left active nursing in 2001 and started lecturing at UCC a year later. During the first phase of the pandemic she felt a moral obligation to return to hospital work and fitted in shifts around lecturing and coursework.
Dr Flynn is back doing 12-hour ICU shifts at Cork University Hospital (CUH) during the third wave of the virus, which she says is vastly different in scale and with a startling drop in the age profile of Covid patients.
She is pleading with the public to refrain from travelling outside of their immediate areas.
There is a disconnect between what we are seeing on the frontline and how the public seem to be behaving
"It doesn't look like a level five lockdown. There is a disconnect between what we are seeing on the frontline and how the public seem to be behaving. You look out the window of the hospital and you are seeing piles and piles of cars passing.
"We know life needs to go on. But when you come out of a critical environment and see people so sick knowing there are families devastated all over the country and then you see what appears to be a lack of awareness of how serious it is.
"I can appreciate that people want a bit of normality. The juxtaposition of people fighting for their life in critical care and then people out shopping. It can be frustrating.”
Meanwhile, Dr Flynn says that ventilation is one of the weapons we have to fight Covid that hasn't been talked about enough during the crisis.
"It is a case of ventilation to avoid ventilators. The airborne nature of this virus hasn't been acknowledged properly. The Government message needs to be got right. What we can't have is a repeat of what we had the last time with face coverings. It took ages for the Government to come around to mandatory face coverings in public. The Government messaging on it was delayed, and we were miles behind other countries.
"Ventilation should be a priority for us in the home, shops, everywhere. Get the thermals on and get the windows open is the message that really needs to come across," she says.
Dr Flynn, who is fitting in hospital work around her college duties, says that is pleased to be able to assist even if it is just one shift a week. She upskilled in critical care and received orientation prior to restarting nursing at CUH.
"When I come out of a shift I feel like I have done something to help. I am out of critical care a long time so I am helping as a runner and a support. The last time I was there (CUH) there was always scope to take more patients. Now it appears so busy. What is really shocking is how young some patients are.
"People often say that nurses and doctors are great and that they wish there was something they could do to help. But you can. You can stay at home. Wash your hands. Keeps your masks on. Ventilate to avoid ventilators.”
Dr Flynn has urged nurses to register for a free Responding to Crisis online Seminar next month.