Tuesday, September 20, 2016

St Luke's Hospital Rathgar

This week's INM Irish regional newspapers' column.

Michael Commane
Earlier this month I started a new job, chaplain in St Luke's Hospital in Dublin.

It was with trepidation and nervousness that I arrived the first day at the hospital. I had no idea what to expect.

Three weeks into the job I cannot believe the welcome I have received. The routine has been: "Hello, I'm the new chaplain here, my name is Michael Commane and this is all new for me."

On every single occasion I have received the warmest and most gracious of welcomes, which has always included the sentiment of hoping that I will be happy in the job and how important it is to have a chaplain in the hospital. I have been genuinely impressed.

It might well be an oxymoron to talk about a hospital as a great place. Hospitals of their nature are for sick people. But St Luke's in Dublin's Rathgar is a haven for the sick. It must be the cleanest hospital I have ever set foot in in Ireland. It has fabulous grounds, which include a small pitch and putt area. I'm told there is a billiard table somewhere in a basement but haven't seen it yet. The prints on the walls greatly add to the general ambience.

I'm slowly feeling my way into the job, getting to know  people, empathising with them, showing them kindness, and above all listening to them. It is also important to lighten the situation whenever possible, to be positive and maybe even have a bit of craic or humour. It all helps. Smile with them. Ireland is a small place and already I have met people who know people I know.

There are no answers when one is confronted with pain and suffering. In the three weeks that I have been in the job I have been struck by the fortitude of people: those who are sick and their families and close friends.

Talking and listening to people who are sick and in pain and worried about their illness pushes you out beyond your everyday reality. It certainly makes you look at the the world, reality, your own stumbling and fumbling, in a different context.

To watch the staff in the hospital do their work is inspiring. Their knowledge, their skills, their kindness is impressive.

Everyone in the building playing her/his role in doing all they can to make people healthy and well again.

Visiting a patient in a day ward last week it suddenly dawned on me that my father had a growth removed from his face in St Luke's. I remember as a child going up to the hospital with him. He was probably in his mid-40s at the time.

From what I can remember, St Luke's kept in touch with him right into his old age. He was swimming in the Atlantic at 92 and was 95 when he died. 

And my mother, before having a laryngectomy in the former Sir Patrick Dun's  Hospital, also had a course of treatment in St Luke's, which proved successful.

The link with my parents gives me a special tie to the hospital.

The fortitude of people, the kindness too. And then to watch the staff doing their work is for me a lesson in what it means to be human.

Every patient and family member with whom I have spoken speaks highly of the hospital.

And guess what, the food too is good. Always a bonus.

St Luke's Radiation Oncology Network operates from three Dublin locations – St Luke’s Hospital in Rathgar and St Luke’s Radiation Oncology units in St James’s and Beaumont hospitals.

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