Date Published: 16-Jun-2011
The Irish healthcare system, in spite of its well documented shortcomings, has a human side that is lacking in many other health systems in the world, according to cardiothoracic surgeon Mark da Costa.
Singapore born Mark, who specialises in heart and lung operations and is Lead Surgeon at UHG, recalls an occasion a couple of years ago when he removed a tumour from a patient’s lungs. For Mark, it was a routine operation. But afterwards the man’s wife gave the surgeon a big hug “and thanked me for saving her husband’s life”, he says.
It’s not every surgeon you could imagine giving a hug to, but Mark da Costa is one of them and patients express their gratitude in different ways.
Inverin woman Ursula Murry didn’t give Mark or the staff in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit a hug after her major surgery – instead the artist donated a painting, which has now gone on display in the Unit.
She is one of 200 patients who had cardiac surgery at UHG last year under the care of Mark and fellow surgeon Dave Verassingham who also operates on patients with thoracic problems.
It’s a far cry from the situation that existed a few years ago when the West of Ireland’s main hospital didn’t have a facility for performing heart and lung surgery.
After years of public campaigning, spearheaded by the West of Ireland Cardiology Foundation, Croí, and cardiologist Kieran Daly, the €20m facility was built and the hospital advertised for a lead surgeon. Mark applied and took up the post in October 2006, carrying out the unit’s first major bypass in May of 2007.
Mark recalls every detail about Ursula Murry’s condition and admires the way she and her family coped with her illness. Her determination to return to college to complete her art degree illustrated her great strength, he feels. And now, the hospital has one of her works.
“At one stage she said to me ‘I did a painting based on my experience’.
“I can’t think of a nicer way to express yourself,” he observes. “It was a hard journey for her, but to see her so well now and to have that painting . . . there are some things you cannot describe.”
It has now been placed in front of the nurses’ station on the ward and has joined two other paintings which the staff received from other artists.
While the country’s financial problems are affecting the Cardiothoracic Unit, with bed closures and staff being lost, including an ICU bed last year, Mark points out that “these are the
best staff that I have ever worked with. They are kind and caring, and that’s on top of the professional side of things”.
He makes that observation in light of his experience training and working in other places, which is pretty extensive.
Mark came to Ireland at 18 to study medicine in Dublin where he did most of his vascular surgical and cardiothoracic training. He completed his cardiothoracic residency in the US and then spent five years working as Associate Professor of Surgery and Consultant Cardiovascular and Cardiothoracic Surgeon in Singapore, where his work also included teaching.
His father was a respiratory physician and initially that was what Mark wanted to do. But he excelled in surgery, winning the gold medal in his final year. He didn’t do so well in medicine and felt that since the signs were pointing that way, surgery was the path he should follow.
In retrospect he is glad, saying his results and his personality were more suited to surgery.
“Although medicine is very interesting and you have to be like a detective, working to figure all the clues [about a patient’s condition] it can also be quite tedious and I am not the most patient person in the world.”
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
Retail industry trade body welcomes B&Q announcement
Date Published: 07-May-2013
Retail Excellence Ireland, the country’s largest retail industry trade body, has welcomed the news that 60 jobs have been saved at the city branch of B&Q.
It’s after the home improvements store successfully exited examinership.
Under the scheme, 2.4 million euro is to be invested by parent company Kingfisher plc, and B and Q will continue to trade at eight stores
This means 640 jobs have been saved nationwide, including 60 at the outlet in Knocknacarra.
However, David Fitzsimons of Retail Excellence Ireland says landlords need to be willing to help out smaller retailers too.
Foundation reports nine Galway heart deaths each week
Date Published: 09-May-2013
Nine people die in Galway every week from heart disease and stroke.
That’s according to the Irish Heart Foundation, which is launching its Happy Hearts Appeal today. (9/5)
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, launched the appeal today to help raise funds for the charity, which has seen increasing demand on its patient services.
The Foundation says it needs to raise at least half a million euro to maintain existing information services.
Call to tackle delays at Oranmore rail crossing
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Concerns have been raised over traffic delays at the railway crossing in Oranmore.
Councillor Jim Cuddy says he has received many representations from local motorists who have been experiencing extended delays.
He says the closed barrier can sometimes cause a traffic tailback as far as the roundabout near the Maldron hotel.
Cllr Cuddy has brought the matter to the attention of Iarnrod Eireann and has asked for an explanation as to why the crossing is closed for so long.