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The public health nurse: 'I just didn't feel it was right to retire now'

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Catherine Rotte Murray. Picture: Patrick Browne

Catherine Rotte Murray. Picture: Patrick Browne

Catherine Rotte Murray. Picture: Patrick Browne

Catherine Rotte Murray cancelled her retirement as a public health nurse to answer the call to fight the coronavirus. She was due to leave her post as a public health nurse operating from Lismore, Co Waterford, this weekend and planned making cycling trips with her husband, Jan, and visits to her children overseas.

"It was in my head this is a crazy time to go, people were being called out of retirement, they were looking for people, and I just didn't feel it was right to push ahead with going," she said.

Last Sunday when her husband told her he would support her if she stayed on, she was decided. "I asked where could I be most useful and that was here," she said.

Catherine has been in the thick of harrowing emergencies before, including the Rwandan genocide. She and her husband worked in overseas development aid for more than 20 years with Concern and other agencies.

Her work providing healthcare in the community, focusing on older people and those most vulnerable to the virus, will help ease the pressure elsewhere on the frontline.

"From a purely practical point of view, the whole thing is about flattening the curve. If we can keep ourselves healthy and make sure we don't have to self-isolate, because of careless contact with other people, hopefully we can continue working," she said.

"It is important that as frontline staff and health workers we have to stay as calm as possible and as careful as possible. We need to maintain our own health and our families."

She has no idea how long her retirement will be on hold - three months, maybe longer. "We will take every day as it comes," she says.

Sunday Independent