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News: 20 May 2020

Frontline Hero Series: Saoirse McGrath

20 May 2020

Saoirse McGrath – one of our 2018 Rose Group is currently working as a nurse in Ireland’s busiest Covid ICU.  Saoirse recently caught up with us at CCI to discuss life during the lockdown, her volunteer experience in Vesnova and how the news of the Covid outbreak in Vesnova affected her.

Volunteering in Vesnova

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to volunteer with Chernobyl Children International in February 2019 as the Meath Rose alongside the wonderful Roses and Escorts of the 2018 class. I knew before entering Vesnova Children’s Institution that the children and people I would meet would stay with me forever. However, I didn’t realise the extent to which this would be true.


We spent a total of 5 days volunteering with the children. Tasks included; feeding, bathing, singing and playing games with them and providing them with much needed love and affection. Everyone got stuck in from the get go.

There were a few medical professionals present on the trip including Erin the Cork Rose, Hannah the Monaghan Rose and myself.  As nurses, it was particularly difficult to observe some of the children with medical conditions and disabilities that could potentially be cured if they were living in different circumstances.


Saoirse McGrath

We all got very attached to the children and the adults living in the orphanage. It was one of the hardest goodbyes I’ve ever had. I’ll never forget the experience of volunteering and the difference it seemed to make to those living in the institution. It’s something I will most certainly be doing again in the future. It was in fact the highlight of my year as the Meath Rose.


Life working in Ireland’s busiest Covid ICU

As an ICU Nurse, I was especially saddened to hear about the outbreak of Covid-19 in Vesnova. I am currently working in Ireland’s busiest Covid ICU and it has been heartbreaking to see some of the cases that have presented as some of the people are critically ill.  In the ICU department, things have changed greatly in our daily experience of work. We are head to toe in essential PPE for 13 hours which can leave marks on your face and can cause you to become very overheated. When we arrive at work we all gown up together, putting on our armour ready to enter into our warzone- unsure as to what each shift will entail.

I work with the most amazing team of nurses, doctors and physios who are beyond supportive of one another during this pandemic – the morale has exceeded my expectations throughout this tough time as has proven to be the case across the globe.

In order to prevent further surges or to lessen the severity of such surges we need to closely follow the phases that have been introduced by respective governments and adhere to social distancing. In Ireland, as I’m sure is the case in other countries around the world, phases have been constructed in such a way as to limit surges and to prevent our ICU beds becoming overwhelmed.

While all want normality to be restored, we must make sacrifices now so that this can become a real possibility. Contraction of this virus could happen to anyone. As a nurse, it has been heartbreaking to see families FaceTiming their loved ones when they are lying in an ICU bed frightened, scared and alone.  At this point in time, we must all do our best to prevent the spread of this virus by adhering to the lockdown guidelines and by banding together in global solidarity while remaining apart. Together, we can beat this virus.