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.
Galway ‘Park and Ride’ could become permanent
Date Published: 07-May-2013
A park ‘n’ ride scheme from Carnmore into Galway city could become a permanent service if there is public demand.
That’s according to the Chief Executive of Galway Chamber of Commerce, Michael Coyle.
The pilot scheme will begin at 7.20 next Monday morning, May 13th.
Motorists will be able to park cars at the airport carpark in Carnmore and avail of a bus transfer to Forster Street in the city.
Buses will depart every 20 minutes at peak times and every 30 minutes at offpeak times throughout the day, at a cost of 2 euro per journey.
Tuam awaits UK hay import as overnight rainfall adds to fodder crisis
Date Published: 09-May-2013
Tuam is now awaiting a third import of hay from the UK as overnight rainfall has increased pressure on farmers struggling to source fodder.
A total of ten loads are expected at Connacht Gold stores throughout the West with a load expected at the Airglooney outlet this evening or tomorrow.
Farmers throughout the county have been struggling to cope with the animal feed shortage and a below than normal grass growth due to unseasonal weather conditions.
Overnight rainfall in the Galway area has also added to the problem making ground conditions in many areas are quite poor.
Joe Waldron, Agricultual Advisor with Connacht Gold says farmers in short supply can contact the Airglooney outlet on 093 – 24101.
Transport Minister urges end to Bus Eireann strike action
Date Published: 12-May-2013
The Transport Minister is urging drivers at Bus Éireann to engage in talks with management, in an effort to bring their strike action to an end.
There were no Bus Éireann services operating out of Galway today as a result of nationwide strike action by staff affiliated with the national bus and rail union.
Up to 20 Bus Éireann drivers are continuing to picket outside the bus depot at the docks in the city this evening.
Drivers from other unions have decided not to cross the picket line and go into work today – causing the disruption to be even worse.
Bus drivers are protesting against five million euro worth of cuts to their overtime and premium pay – cuts which Bus Eireann says are vital to ensure the future viability of the company.
The majority of services nationwide are disrupted, and the union say strike action will continue until management are willing to go back into negotiations.
However, it’s not expected to affect school services next week.
Galway bay fm news understands that around 70 percent, or over 100 Galway bus Eireann drivers are affiliated with the NBRU.