testing, testing….

Over the last 6-8 months there has been a lot of criticism of how the government has been handling the Covid19 outbreak in Ireland and I have been critical myself of the lack of direction and apparent lack of a clear path. A lot of media criticism has been around the failure of the government to ramp up testing and contact tracing services as well as the ability of the health service to cope with a second and third wave. In the last couple of days I have nothing but praise for the service.

My initial contact was with my local GP service in Lifford. Our service are particularly good and I don’t know how much of my initial speed was their systems or the HSE systems as a whole.

I spoke to the health centre shortly after 9am and received a call back from a GP at 9:30am. She went through my symptoms, asked about the rest of the household and recommended we all get tested. She booked the tests electronically and the appointments came through as SMS within minutes for appointments at 11:30am.

My knowledge of the testing centre was quite limited. I’d seen photos of the original setup in O’Donnell GAA pitch in the local media. I’d also heard that it was moved to a new facility in the car park at the hospital but I’d no idea of the scale of this new centre. Below are photos of the original and upgraded facilities taken from Donegal Daily articles.

original facility
new facility

All our checking in and testing was done without us leaving the car. We were initially directed to a reception block where our appointments were confirmed and our details checked. We were given envelopes containing the testing kits, tissues, masks and information leaflets. Conor’s and Catriona’s required additional work so we were directed to a waiting area until they were ready. It was like a less enjoyable version of the McDonald’s Drive Thru!

After a few minutes we were called forward to one of the large drive in sheds where two staff, fully kitted in PPE explained the whole process and completed the tests. They were very friendly and professional and made the whole process a lot easier.

The test for kids is different to adults so Conor was done first with the swab up both nostrils for a short twist. For the rest of us it was a swab of the back of the throat and then the back of the nose via a nostril. The test itself is hateful and uncomfortable but not sore and definitely manageable, over quite quickly. I’d say the four of us were done in less than 10 minutes including explanations.

I’ve seen some criticism this year that the Irish Army hasn’t been used properly to support the fight against Covid19 so it was interesting to see two of the testers yesterday were wearing Army uniforms under their PPE. It seems they are being used but under the radar and that they will be utilised further as the vaccination program begins.

We were told that the results could take 24-48hrs but woke the next morning to SMS confirmations that we were all positive with guideline links on what to do next and what to expect. At 9:50am I received a call from the GP to confirm the result in case we hadn’t received the message and again explaining what to do (isolate for 10 days), what to expect, what to look out for and how to treat the symptoms. She also completed the electronic declarations for social welfare to cover both Catriona and myself while off work.

Later that morning we both completed the online social welfare application. Again a very streamlined process made simple and easy to complete.

That afternoon we also received a call from the contact tracing service. It was mainly Catriona they spoke to but took details for both of us and the boys. Catriona’s work has had a number of cases already so they’re hyper aware and we have really good systems in place at my work. The boys have been off school since before Xmas so it was a relief to have very few possible contacts. While they are no longer testing close contacts without symptoms it’s reassuring to see that they are still following through to ask them to isolate.

I really do hope that the HSE has learned from how they have managed and handled the Covid19 pandemic and that once it is over they can take these new experiences and learnings and use them to correct many of the failings of the current system. I would like to think we will see an end to the endless bureaucracy, waiting times and endless queues in congested clinics. They’ve shown this year that dramatic change is possible when the will is there.

4 thoughts on “testing, testing….

  1. unironedman

    Good article, and a positive experience… damn, sorry, but you know what I mean. They are doing a good job under the circumstances. I just hope we do learn something out of this affair, because it’s proven how threadbare so many of our services are when put under even a small amount of strain.

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  2. threewheelsonmywaggon

    Who is doing a good job, certainly not the government in Westminster, the devolved governments have little leeway, power devolved is power retained. They have been running to catch up from the start, they were warned as far back as 2008 that the NHS would not be able to cope with a pandemic, then the fiasco at the start., even with a months warning there was no forward planning. We have an army, navy and an airforce, stationed across the world, they have doctors, medical staff, and all the logistics any army would ever need, yet the NHS is having to cancel all operations just to stand still. what do you think will happen after we all get our jab and the virus is suppressed, the backlog will be endless, waiting time will be years not months for an operation. Boris is an arse and so are those advising him. But not to worry we are spending a further 10 billion on new aircraft for the big white elephants the Elizabeth class aircraft carriers. from the US of course. Can.t wait till we hear the Labour party telling Johnson that the NHS need more money, and Johnston tells them we need to pay off the debt caused by their incompetence, (sorry coronavirus). They could not run a prayer meeting in an abbey.

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    1. biking2work

      I think that you’re being disrespectful to arses there. We (the UK has the worst person in charge at the worst possible time). You forgot to mention the corrupt cronyism of the UK T&T system. The app informed me 2 DAYS LATER that my area is in lock down!

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  3. threewheelsonmywaggon

    Yes, we could write a book on the mishandling by a bumbling BorisJohnston – sadly there are the thousands that have died through his negligence in office, swept under the carpet. I do get angry and tend to take up my pen from time to time in pure frustration. There is a theory that if a political leader or president for that matter,(think Trump) wish to push through policies that would otherwise (under normal circumstances) be unthinkable they create conditions so bad that people simply vote for them to escape the mess. (think theEU _ UK Brexit deal). Now that the Berxiteers have their 80 majorities in the Commons, and free from the Court of Human Rights, Lookout devolved powers, devolved parliaments, Westminster centralisation is here to stay. and the devil take the hindmost. 

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