A casual chat between a daughter and her parents set the wheels in motion for an express delivery to Dublin’s famous Rotunda Maternity Hospital. Karen Behan, a midwife at the oldest continuously operating maternity hospital in the world, was lamenting the fact that the coronavirus crisis was going to place greater demands on supplies of essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Her concerns did not fall on deaf ears. Unbeknown to Karen, mum and dad were already hatching a plan. Martin was a former employee of Heating Engineer Supplies in Patrickswell, just over 10km outside Limerick. His missus is the company’s current Credit Controller. They knew exactly who to contact.
“Martin and Marie rang me and expressed their concerns about what might happen if PPE levels couldn’t be maintained at the hospital where Karen worked,” said Heating Engineer Supplies’ Principal, Charlie O’Neill. “They were worried that it might reach the situation where there was insufficient PPE for all members of staff, a natural fear for any parent with a daughter or son working on the medical frontline.” The Behan’s were right, Charlie was just the man for the job.
“I knew straight away that we had to do something,” added Charlie. “I immediately contacted Jim Bell at Carraig Tools, and we both agreed to scour our warehouses and rake out anything that might help.”
When they’d finished rummaging, Jim in particular had unearthed PPE that was, in the current climate, worth its weight in gold. ‘Approved & Certified’ masks, goggles, gloves, over shoes were packed with anti bacterial wipes, standard wipes, and even ponchos that could provide a layer of splash protection.
Next step, well that was to tell Karen the good news. She in turn informed her manager at Rotunda’s Delivery Suite/Assessment & Emergency Unit, Fiona Walsh; and Fiona contacted the hospital’s Procurement & Supplies Manager, Yoichi Hoashi. Starting out life in Cork and Limerick, the PPE package was soon winging its way to Dublin’s Parnell Street.
“Unlike England, we never reached the situation of running out of PPE, but there was most definitely a real strain on PPE supplies,” explained Yoichi. “There are three maternity hospitals in Dublin, and we’ve all been helping one another, sharing PPE. We are incredibly grateful to Charlie and Jim for their donation, which has been put to good use in our on-going efforts to protect our staff and patients. Some of the PPE, like the gloves, was particularly suited to use by the tradesmen who also conduct work vital to the running of a hospital.”
Heating Engineer Supplies and Carraig Tools are just two examples of how good people respond in times of crisis. “They stepped up and offered to help, and for that we will always be thankful,” added Yoichi. “At the Rotunda we have seen many examples of the good in people. From Charlie, Jim, Karen and her parents, to the doctor who had a baby here and returned with a couple of boxes of PPE masks. Another midwife organised plastic frames for visors, Nokia Ireland offered practical help, and people even knit little attachment loops so the masks could fit more snugly on people with smaller heads.”
Martin and Marie Behan were pretty confident they would have a receptive audience when they picked up the phone to ring Charlie O’Neill. They were good judges of character. “In fairness to the lads [Charlie and Jim] it was all down to them,” said Martin. “What they did is very much appreciated by our family. Thanks lads!”