Much done but more to do for public health workers

Dr Mai Mannix, Public Health Mid West Director (centre) with the HSE Excellence Award, along with Dr Margaret Morris Downes, Surveillance Scientist; Brian McKeon, General Manager; Claire O’Riordan, Contact Tracer and Bernie Higgins, Assistant Director of Nursing

THE Department of Public Health Mid-West has been acknowledged for its work during the Covid pandemic with a special award from the HSE.

The Limerick-based organisation, which manages health risks for almost 400,000 people in Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary, was one of 11 Public Health departments to receive HSE Excellence Awards on Monday.

Since March 2020, it has monitored and intervened in thousands of Covid outbreaks, as well as tracking the disease through data surveillance and contact tracing. It has also offered clinical advice and updated the public on evolving trends.

The awards were presented to all regional Public Health departments, the National Immunisation Office, the Health Surveillance Protection Centre, and the Office of National Clinical Director Health Protection.

HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry said that hundreds of hard-working staff in every region had played a unique role throughout the pandemic.

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“Many lives have been saved through their tireless efforts in outbreak management and control, the tracking and tracing of the disease, and breaking and preventing numerous chains of transmission in the community. While work is ongoing in this pandemic, it is important that we recognise and acknowledge their major contribution over the past two years.”

Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid-West, said she was delighted to receive the award on behalf the doctors, nurses, surveillance team, contact tracers and administrative staff  who all played a role in saving lives in every community across the Mid-West region.

“But our work is far from over, as we are closely monitoring the evolving epidemiological situation across the three counties. While restrictions have been lifted and the level of serious illness and death is declining, we have seen more than 16,500 PCR-confirmed cases over the past two weeks in the region.

“Sickness and Long Covid are still possibilities where there is widespread transmission, which is why we urge people to avail of their boosters, or their third and fourth dose if they are immunocompromised.

“Around five per cent of people aged 12 and older have yet to be fully-vaccinated. The unvaccinated cohort is most at risk of serious illness, but it is never too late for your first dose or to be fully-vaccinated.”