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Brian McKeon, General Manager; Dr Mai Mannix, Director; Bernie Higgins, Assistant Director of Nursing; Top of stairs – Dr Margaret Morris Downes, Surveillance Scientist; Claire O’Riordan, Contact Tracer

LISTEN: Public Health Mid-West awarded for pandemic work

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THE staff at the Department of Public Health Mid-West (Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary) are to be awarded an HSE Excellence Award for their work during the Covid-19 pandemic since March 2020.

Public Health Mid-West, which monitors and manages all emerging health risks and infectious diseases in the community for nearly 400,000 people in Limerick, Clare, and North Tipperary, was one of 11 Public Health departments to receive this award, this Monday.

Since March 2020, Public Health Mid-West has monitored and intervened in thousands of Covid-19 outbreaks, has charted the disease through surveillance of data and trends and contact tracing of complex situations, offered clinical advice to key priority settings, and frequently updated the public on evolving trends through enhanced communications.

The HSE’s Chief Clinical Officer, Dr Colm Henry presented the 11 awards today to all regional Public Health departments, the National Immunisation Office, the Health Surveillance Protection Centre, and the Office of National Clinical Director Health Protection, via virtual presentation.

Dr Henry said: “It is an honour to present the HSE Excellence Award to all staff of Public Health departments across the country. Hundreds of hard-working staff in every region, including doctors, nurses, surveillance teams, contact tracers and administrative staff, have played a unique role throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

“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 Public Health’s 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, who received the award on behalf of the Limerick-based department, said: “We are delighted to receive this award. It is an award for every single person who has worked with us since the start of the pandemic.

“Our doctors, nurses, surveillance team, contact tracers, and admin team have all played a role in saving lives in every community across the Mid-West region. In receiving this award, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the public for doing their utmost to protect themselves and each other over the past two years. It has not been easy, but the people of Limerick, Clare, and North Tipperary have shown they are true leaders of their community.”

“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.

“We also note that around 5% 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.”

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