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Connacht Tribune

Home help feels the pinch as staff numbers suffer

Stephen Corrigan

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Minister Anne Rabbitte.

Despite rising demand for home help services, the numbers of HSE staff providing the service continues to fall – with the public health service turning more and more towards private care providers to bridge the gap.

That’s according to a HSE-employed Health Care Support Assistant from East Galway who told the Connacht Tribune that despite Covid, their work has carried on.

“We have a great responsibility to care for people who in many cases are totally isolated and dependent on us – for that elderly lady out the country, when we go in and get them up in the morning, we might be the only person they see from one end of the day to the next,” she said.

In figures released to the Tribune, Community Healthcare West revealed that fewer than ten home helps have been isolating as a result of confirmed Covid or close-contact in recent weeks.

However, 36 of the HSE’s 218 full and part-time Health Care Support Assistants are over the age of 70 and have been forced to cocoon since restrictions came in March 2020.

And 189 clients have also voluntarily suspended their home support hours as a result of the pandemic, to reduce the chance of transmission in cases where there are alternative care arrangements in place.

This is despite there being some 3,297 people in receipt of home supports in Galway City and County.

Junior Minister at the Department of Health and TD for Galway East, Anne Rabbitte, said the recruitment problems in the sector were significant, particularly as there had been a huge drive to employ additional care assistants in nursing homes and hospitals in recent times.

“The HSE ran a very intensive campaign for nursing homes, and that often offers a better contract, so that has sucked away the pool of potential home helps.

“A big problem is that even when you secure home help for someone – and it may only be three hours when they need much more – they could be waiting weeks to actually find a person to do the work,” said Minister Rabbitte.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

Connacht Tribune

Galway to complete vaccine roll-out by end of the summer

Denise McNamara

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Ninety-five year old Margaret Kenny was first person to be administered the Covid-19 vaccination Practice Nurse Deirdre Furey at the Surgery Athenry.

On the first anniversary of Covid-19’s deadly arrival into Ireland, the head of the Saolta hospital group has predicted that all who want the vaccine will have received it by the end of the summer.

Tony Canavan, CEO of the seven public hospitals, told the Connacht Tribune that the HSE was planning to set up satellite centres from the main vaccination hub at the Galway Racecourse to vaccinate people on the islands and in the most rural parts of the county.

While locations have not yet been signed up, the HSE was looking at larger buildings with good access that could be used temporarily to carry out the vaccination programme over a short period.

“We do want to reach out to rural parts of the region instead of drawing in people from the likes of Clifden and over from the islands. The plan is to set up satellites from the main centre, sending out small teams out to the likes of Connemara,” he explained.

“Ideally we’d run it as close as possible to the same time that the main centres are operating once that is set up. Communication is key – if people know we’re coming, it will put people’s minds at rest.”

Get all the latest Covid-19 coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Galway meteorologist enjoying new-found fame in the sun!

Denise McNamara

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Linda Hughes, presenting the RTÉ weather forecast live in studio.

Growing up in Galway where four seasons in a day is considered a soft one, Linda Hughes always had a keen interest in the weather.

But unlike most Irish people, instead of just obsessing about it, she actually went and pursued it as a career.

The latest meteorologist to appear on RTE’s weather forecasts hails from Porridgtown, Oughterard, and brings with her an impressive background in marine forecasting.

She spent six years in Aerospace and Marine International in Aberdeen, Scotland, which provides forecasts for the oil and gas industry.

The 33-year-old was a route analyst responsible for planning routes for global shipping companies. She joined the company after studying experimental physics in NUIG and doing a masters in applied meteorology in Redding in the UK.

“My job was to keep crews safe and not lose cargo by picking the best route to get them to their destination as quickly as possibly but avoiding hurricanes, severe storms,” she explains.

“It was a very interesting job, I really enjoyed it but it was very stressful as you were dealing with bad weather all the time because there’s always bad weather in some part of the world.”

Read the full interview with Linda Hughes in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Great-great-grandmother home after Covid, a stroke, heart failure and brain surgery

Dave O'Connell

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Mary Quinn...back home after an incredible few months.

Her family are understandably calling her their miracle mum – because an 81 year old great-great-grandmother from Galway has bounced back from Covid-19, a stroke, heart failure and brain surgery since Christmas…to return hale and hearty, to her own home.

But Mary Quinn’s family will never forget the trauma of the last three months, as the Woodford woman fought back against all of the odds from a series of catastrophic set-backs.

The drama began when Mary was found with a bleed on her brain on December 16. She was admitted to Portiuncula Hospital, and transferred to Beaumont a day later where she underwent an emergency procedure – only to then suffer a stroke.

To compound the crisis, while in Beaumont, she contracted pneumonia, suffered heart failure and developed COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – the inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs.

“Christmas without mom; things did not look good,” said her daughter Catherine Shiel.

But the worst was still to come – because before Mary was discharged, she contracted Covid-19.

Read Mary’s full, heart-warming story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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