Munster team doctor Jamie Kearns has joined the frontline in the fight against Covid-19 by rejoining the emergency department at University Hospital Galway.
Kearns will be on familiar ground in his home city and does so with the full backing of his employers whose players have been stood down for eight weeks until May 18.
“I was very lucky, I spoke to Munster and they were very supportive of my desire to go back and try and help out locally,” Kearns told the Munster Rugby website.
“I worked in the emergency department in Galway for a number of years so I’d know a lot of the staff there very well and knew there was a need to get extra staff in. Both to cope with the number of people coming in but also the fact that a quarter of the people who get the infection are healthcare workers and then the number of people who have to go into isolation because of the infection or being exposed.”
Kearns spoke of feeling privileged at being able to return to help alleviate some pressure on the HSE as Ireland struggles to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
“With Munster’s support it’s something I feel privileged to go back and do and I feel lucky that I’m in that situation because I feel for a number of people at the minute, when it’s such an uncertain time and you don’t know what’s coming down the road, having the ability to affect some sort of change is a real positive. It allows me the opportunity to go in and contribute something to the work that so many people are doing in the hospital.
“There’s a number of doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants, cleaners — I don’t think people see that, the people who come in for not a huge amount of money to make this sacrifice in what is a very high-risk environment. I think it’s important that all those people are recognised for what they do.
“From a society point of view, what I think has happened in a horrible set of circumstances is that we’ve brought focus on something that is so important and maybe has been neglected for a long number of years which is our health and the service that is there for people when they aren’t well, that we provide a really good service.
“I think that’s being highlighted in terms of the people who go in working there, they’re doing that all the time anyway. I think it’s just now in this crisis that people see what they’re doing and I think it’s really important that we put a huge value on that as a society.
“From a community point of view, sport brings people together, it gives people something to focus on and bond over. From everyone I’ve talked to, it’s the same in the health service now where everyone feels like a team trying to fight towards a purpose.”
With the Guinness PRO14 season suspended indefinitely, Kearns’ other team has been training individually and are set for a down week next week as they reach the midway point of their stand-down period.
The doctor praised the players’ response to the situation.
“We’re in a very privileged position and the guys all recognise that. They see the importance of what’s going on externally while they maintain their focus on what their job is and how important is it for them to be fit and ready for when the season hopefully starts again.
“We’re lucky to be able to do that and we’ve a really dedicated team behind us in our athletic performance and physiotherapy teams who are all very focused on making the best of the situation.
“There’s a 100% buy-in from the players and they have been brilliant.”