RTÉ Investigates returns to St James's Hospital for a brand new documentary which shows how the delivery of healthcare in Ireland has radically changed in the wake of Covid-19.
Following on from the recent ‘RTE Investigates: Inside Ireland's Covid Battle’ programmes, tonight show explores how the changes will impact significantly on patients and staff alike and how the changes are here for the foreseeable future.
The programme hears stark accounts from bone marrow transplant patients going through weeks in solitary isolation with the bare minimum of human physical contact., and the long term physical and psychological impact of the virus on young nurses and healthcare assistants.
The documentary visits the Emergency Department where after a lull, the number of patients is rapidly returning to pre-Covid levels, "there were days last winter where we had up to a hundred patients in the department, we physically can't take more than 45 patients here safely."
Filming behind the scenes with the patients and staff, the programme shows the array of changes brought in to protect patients at the National Bone Marrow Transplant centre, the fears for patients who decided to stay away from hospital during the pandemic, and how certain procedures like bronchoscopies can put staff at increased risk of contracting the virus. The programme also looks at how technology is playing an increasing role in the delivery of healthcare into the future.
It is a powerful documentary which is set to again initiate public debate around Covid-19 and the country's healthcare system. It also features more moving personal stories:
Elaine (42) from Carlow has acute leukemia and is receiving chemo. Staff only enter the room for essential medical procedures and as much as possible, patients care for themselves by checking their own pulse and taking their own blood pressure and temperature. Meals are left outside their hospital room door for patients to collect.
"The fact of not being able to have visitors, just missing the human contact, you are given this awful diagnosis and you can’t get a hug, someone can’t even hold your hand and you’ve to pull yourself back together so that you can get through it."
Health Care Assistant Daryl McGrattan is all too aware the impact Covid can have. He became symptomatic with a high temperature and aches and pains and headaches. "The bad side of it was, I had passed it onto my partner. Which then proceeded to be passed onto my 3-month-old son, Tommy.... Before I had got a swab I was isolating but it was too late, that’s the problem, how contagious it is."
Three weeks previously, 27-year-old nurse Kelly Talty tested positive for Covid-19 and was recovering at home. She arrives into the Emergency Department with her heart beating three times the normal rate. Staff are very concerned for Kelly and she is admitted to the hospital. Days later, she is still in hospital and her heart is now beating at five times the normal rate.
"I’m fit, healthy and it’s absolutely floored me - It’s nearly annoying, I know obviously restrictions are being lifted, but when you can see everyone is out, and you just feel, please adhere to it and stay in a little bit longer and everything like that - because they think they are going to be fine, it’s like a flu, you’ll never even know you have it - and it is a month later I am here in a hospital bed, when I should be at work"
Watch RTÉ Investigates: Future Health Care tonight at 9.35pm on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player