For you, alumni and friends at home - March 2020

Graduates on the Frontline: Advice from Dr Doireann O’Leary, General Practitioner (GP)

31 Mar 2020
Dr Doireann O'Leary, Medicine 2011

UCC Medical graduate, Dr Doireann O’Leary describes the impact of Covid-19 on a busy GP practice and gives us some tips on how to stay well and healthy during a global health crisis.

 • How has Covid-19 impacted on your work and on your GP practice so far?

We’ve had to change how we work overnight. At My Cork GP, we are a big multi-doctor practice. We can’t be in the same room at the same time. We’re having team meetings via Zoom. We’re doing telephone triage for all patients now. All patients must phone before attending the surgery. Anything that can be done over the phone will be sorted over the phone. We are now doing e-prescriptions instead of paper prescriptions. We’re encouraging patients to check their own vital signs at home, e.g. checking their own blood pressure and temperature. If a patient has respiratory symptoms, we have to see them dressed in full personal protective equipment. General Practice as we knew it has disappeared. It’s sad to see. I want to get back to normal and to see our patients the way we used to. But unfortunately, that’s not possible for now. The safety of patients and practice staff has to be prioritised.

• How are you keeping yourself healthy and well during this stressful period?

I’m doing my best to keep up healthy habits to mind my psychological and physical health during this unprecedented time. We’ve set up a home gym seeing as we can’t go to the gym anymore. I’d be really lost if I couldn’t exercise. And we’re getting plenty of walks in when possible. My husband works in CUH. Getting out under the sky is very calming and helps us debrief whilst also enjoying fresh air. As always, I ensure I get eight hours sleep a night and I’m doing my best to eat well. Sleep and good nutrition is key for a strong immune system. 

• Any tips on how we should all keep ourselves well at such a challenging time?

Get back to basics. Sleep for eight hours a night. Eat well. Avoid alcohol. It’s easy to lose routine and healthy habits during this very peculiar time. But descending into unhealthy habits like grazing on sugar or drinking more alcohol than normal will have a negative impact on your psychological health in the first instance and then ultimately over time it will have an impact on your physical health.

Go out for a walk whenever you can. But avoid crowded places and be sure to practice physical distancing.

Continue to do what you enjoy and do the things that make you you! Do your yoga class via Zoom. Get up and get dressed up for dinner at home on Friday night if you miss your Friday night out. Do a book club by Skype. Catch up with friends on Skype on Saturday night with a glass of wine. Still be you. But in a physically distanced way!

Lastly, I advise to focus on your own life and family. Getting caught up in global figures and headlines is nothing short of terrifying at the moment. Scale back and just focus on doing your bit in your life.


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