People like Ennis resident Bernie Tierney, who has been a Household Attendant at Ennis Hospital for the past two decades, play a vital role in keeping hospitals functioning safely for patients and staff alike.
Bernie has been a Household Attendant at Ennis Hospital for the past 20 years, and in recent years has voluntarily added to her busy daily workload by becoming a Flu Vaccine Advocate.
This decision stems from her own gruelling experience several years ago, when she was laid low by a particularly serious dose of influenza that incapacitated her and left her bed-ridden for several days.
“I was very sick with it,” Bernie explains with a shudder. “I ended up in bed for three days, and I felt so sick, with pains in every part of my body. My children had to do everything for me.”
“As soon as I recovered, I said to myself, ‘Never again! From now on, I’m going to get the flu vaccine.’ So, I’ve been getting the flu vaccine every year since, and, touch wood, I haven’t had the flu since,” she recalls.
Because Bernie’s work routine brings her into contact with many patients and staff in different parts of the hospital, she soon began to consider and appreciate the benefits of the flu vaccine for everyone – colleagues and patients, as well as her own family and the wider community.
As a Flu Vaccine Advocate, Bernie complements the efforts of management at Ennis Hospital and across the sites of UL Hospitals Group to encourage all staff to get the flu vaccine and keep hospitals safe for patients, colleagues, and their families, friends and neighbours.
Her Household Attendant duties make Bernie particularly well attuned to the importance of cleaning and hygiene.
"I’m very particular when it comes cleaning, because all day, in different parts of the hospital, I'm cleaning everything, including worktops, toilets, windows, floors, radiators and bins,” she explains.
Throughout the period of the Winter Action Plan in the Mid-West, Bernie is stepping up her efforts to encourage as many of her colleagues as possible to have the flu vaccine.
"I think it’s important for everybody in high-risk areas like hospitals to protect themselves and patients, as well as their colleagues and their families. The way I see it, the flu vaccine is the best way we have to protect ourselves and the people around us all the time," Bernie says.
"Often it's the younger people who will be saying, 'Oh, we don't need to take that.' But I think everyone should get the vaccine. And it's nice to come across people who take the vaccine for the first time because I’ve told them my story, and encouraged them to get it," she explains.
It's clear that Ennis Hospital is a big part of Bernie's life. On Christmas Day, when most people were tucking into their turkey dinners, Bernie helped to bring Santa to the hospital to visit the wards and deliver presents to the patients.
"I love doing that, and I love cleaning. It's what I love most about the job. It's quite challenging, balancing the different responsibilities, but very rewarding, and I see encouraging people to get the flu vaccine as an extension of that," Bernie concludes.