Friday 16 November 2018

Meeting the medics who help us get well

Medics showcased their work in foyer of Sligo Hospital

Sorcha Crowley

Combing your own hair, being able to walk unaided, testing your lung capacity, knowing what to eat if you have cancer, getting help with a squint or simply talking to a sympathetic ear - these are some of the lesser talked about challenges that face many of us after a stay in hospital.

After the consultants and nurses have done their bit patching us up, most of us will still need help getting back out into the world and leading independent lives.

Some of those quiet unsung heroes who work so hard behind the scenes came out into the public eye for the first time last week at Sligo University Hospital (SUH).

Specialists in all their chosen fields (some of whom can only qualify abroad such is the rarity of their speciality) joined in the first ever National Health and Social Care Professionals Day in the hospital foyer last Thursday morning.

Ever heard of an Orthoptist? Me neither. But Maria Cairns is one of just two orthoptists at SUH whose primary role is to help us see straight.

"We deal mainly with kids but with adults too. It's more about how the two eyes work together as a pair and the muscles of the eyes. Kids would get referred to us if they have reduced vision or a turn in their eye or a lazy eye," explains Maria.

"Adults come into us too if they're getting double vision. We'd fit a prism onto their glasses which helps temporarily get rid of their double vision

"We're very specialised. You can only train in England. We do clinics in Ballyshannon, Tubbercurry, Enniscrone and Longford. The best part of our job is seeing the smile on the patient's face, they're just so happy when they can see properly," she adds.

Occupational Therapist Marissa Lupot is part of the rehabilitation team helping people regain their independence after a hospital stay.

"We promote independence in their activities of daily living, improving and maintaining their function. We assess how they wash and dress themselves, how they cook a meal when they go home, how they can get in and out of the bed and if they need any help we provide the equipment," she said.

Podiatrist Marguerite Medas is seeing a huge rise in the number of patients with foot trouble in Sligo, not just bunions, corns and verucas: "The service now is a high-risk service because you deal with a lot more diabetics, people with proliferal arterial disease, rheumatoid arthritis, people at risk of ulcerating - that's where they need our help. Diabetes is one of the big epidemics of the 21st century," she said.

"Someone comes in limping and you can instantly relieve them. They say to me 'I'm comin' out dancin' now!' which is great."

Sligo Champion