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Hospital team protected patients by prepping for Covid-19 in January

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Top team: Kara Samos, Alan Rooney, Prof Margaret Hannan and Nisha Joseph of the Mater Private Infection Control Team

Top team: Kara Samos, Alan Rooney, Prof Margaret Hannan and Nisha Joseph of the Mater Private Infection Control Team

Top team: Kara Samos, Alan Rooney, Prof Margaret Hannan and Nisha Joseph of the Mater Private Infection Control Team

Weeks before Ireland went into lockdown and lives were upended by Covid-19, a small team was already quietly scrambling to prepare for life under a pandemic.

The Infection Control Team members at the Mater Private Hospital, who win this week's Irish Independent Frontline Star of the Week award, have been credited with keeping the spread of Covid-19 to a minimum in the hospital.

Since January, the team had been preparing the hospital for the brunt of the deadly virus and were already planning ways to stop it from spreading among patients and staff.

The team is led by Professor Margaret Hannan, a consultant microbiologist. It also includes Nisha Joseph and Kara Samos, two infection control nurses, and Alan Rooney, an infection control analyst. They started preparing to fight Covid-19 as soon as the World Health Organisation declared it a public health concern in January.

"Battling with any pandemic situation needs teamwork. Without a good team, we can't do anything," Ms Joseph said. "I must say, the Mater Private has a great team and we have successfully managed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in our hospital."

When Covid-19 hit Ireland, the Mater Private started working with the public hospital and HSE to help fight Covid-19. It was the Infection Control Team that helped provide information, training, advice and equipment to protect healthcare staff and minimise the spread of the virus.

Working with hospital management, the team reviewed all of the access points to the hospital and set up early screening to monitor the possible spread of Covid-19.

"As human beings, we all had anxieties and fear but we knew if we kept in line with the national guidelines and if we give frequent education and training staff and worked closely we would be able to overcome and challenge this pandemic head on," Ms Joseph said.

She said it was "very exciting" for the team to be selected as the Irish Independent Frontline Star of the Week. Her colleague, Mr Rooney, said the team was stunned.

"It was actually very surprising, and we're still in shock," he said.

The team was nominated by their colleague Meaghan Tolan, who works on the hospital's internal communications team.

"They went over and above to make sure that we had the measures and protocols in place to look after our patients, keep patients and staff safe so we could continue to deliver excellent care, while dealing with whatever the global pandemic might bring. They did this always in a calm manner and with a reassuring smile on their faces," Ms Tolan said.

For more than 60 years, the Irish Independent has honoured the Sportstar of the Week. This year, our nation has faced a challenge far beyond our sporting fields. To nominate, email your submission (100 words max) with a photo, telling us about your nominee to frontlinestar@independent.ie

Irish Independent