Sinéad was seconded from her HSE role to perform swab testing in the testing centre in Co. Louth, before moving on to do testing in nursing homes. She is now back in her orthodontic clinic and, looking back, she says she really enjoyed the testing work: “You felt you were doing something, but at the time it was extremely tiring. It’s also a bit stressful because you’re wondering are you bringing it home? My parents are old. I couldn’t see my partner… Otherwise, I was glad. The ambulance guys were also great craic”.
There were many people in the HSE redeployed into testing from different specialties, and Sinéad thinks the dental team members had particular transferable skills that made them suited to it: “I think we’re good at it because we’re all trained in cross-infection, especially the nurses, and we’ve a good sense of doing our own disinfecting. We understand viruses, within reason. I think we’re well placed also because we’re good at organising clinics. We organise patients, we organise volume of patients. We work fast in orthodontic services. We don’t have long appointments and I think that’s a skillset that these two [hygienist Tara Mundow and dental nurse Joanne O’Kane] definitely brought to the testing unit”.
The HSE can sometimes get a lot of flak, but Sinéad says: “Everyone loves to put down the HSE, but I was really proud of the HSE for its response to Covid-19 – and the people who came on board. It was amazing to put together such a team effort; normally, we can’t agree on anything, and suddenly this massive effort arrived from the HSE. I have to say, overall, I was really proud of the HSE and its clinical staff. It was well organised, it was fast, they pulled all the stops out and to be fair, I think they did a really good job”.