Cork star Treacy primed and ready to face another battle

Cork star Treacy primed and ready to face another battle
Cork camogie player Laura Treacy. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

For Laura Treacy, it is a waiting game.

The Cork camogie full-back is a nurse at the colposcopy clinic on the grounds of St Finbarr’s Hospital in the city. But for how much longer the clinic remains open is being reviewed on a daily basis.

Treacy and her colleagues are taking it day-by-day, fully cognisant their services may swiftly be required elsewhere in the battle against Covid-19.

Notice of redeployment could arrive at any moment.

The 25-year-old was at home in Killeagh when Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced the latest suite of restrictive measures on Friday evening. But even if the two-week lockdown is lifted in mid-April, Treacy knows she won’t be going back out to East Cork any time soon should her work situation change.

The city centre house where she lives — and lives alone at present given her housemate has gone home — would become her isolation bunker for as long as this pandemic persists.

“In the clinic, we are dealing with women whose initial cervical check screening has shown an abnormality or who have concerning symptoms. 

"We do biopsies and provide treatments for people with pre-cancer cells. It is not anywhere near the frontline, but we are dealing with some cases which are urgent,” the four-time All-Ireland medal winner explained.

“One of the reasons the clinic is still open and continuing to provide a service to the women who need it is because we are located off-site.

“If we were located inside Cork University Maternity Hospital, we would not be remaining open because the volume of women coming in and out the door would be too high, and it would be much harder to manage social distancing than it is in the clinic.

“I think another reason why we are still open is that the numbers presenting for Covid-19 are still at a manageable level, for the moment.”

But given the predicted surge in the coming days and weeks, and with the HSE having paused cervical screening until April 19, Treacy is prepared for a changed working environment.

“We could be called at any minute. If the numbers rise sharply and more staff are needed, the clinic would be closed and we would be redeployed. A lot depends on the numbers, really.”

The 2017 All-Star corner-back has nothing but admiration for her colleagues who are tending to those admitted to hospital with Covid-19.

It is a frightening time for everyone, not least healthcare workers who account for almost one quarter of all confirmed cases.

“It is obviously a very contagious virus. The amount of people who are obtaining it and they don’t even know where some people have picked it up is very scary.

“If you are on the frontline and you are working with patients who have it, then you are at a high risk of getting it.

"Obviously, the PPE (personal protective equipment) is there, but it only takes a mistake when taking off a glove or for you to forget to wash your hands at a certain point whilst taking off your PPE for you to contract the virus.

“It is scary for all the frontline workers who are doing such amazing work.”

Treacy continued: “It is the unknown about it which makes it scary.

"Symptoms mightn’t come upon you for days and days, and then you are thinking about the people you were in contact with during the days previous.

People are scared for their families because nobody wants to bring this home. And I’m sure they have certain protocols for themselves, be that running straight into the shower the minute they get inside the front door after work.

It is hard for those on the frontline — the unknown as to whether they are bringing it home to their families and kids.”

The numbers have quickly put sport into perspective.

Cork were on course to reach the Division 1 National League camogie final before the country went into lockdown. As to when the All-Ireland Championship might throw-in, nobody has the faintest idea.

“Up until now, sport came first for a lot of people and everything else came second. I was working in the Mercy Hospital after I graduated. I was working nights, 12-hour shifts. It wasn’t working for me. I made a huge decision at that point to become an agency nurse. I made a huge decision because of sport.

“At the moment, health is coming first and sport is coming second.”

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