Irene Murphy, EAPC Board Member and Director of Bereavement and Family Support Services, Marymount University Hospice, Cork, Ireland, continues our series of contributions from EAPC board members
I started to work in Marymount Hospice in Cork in April 1999. It was a time of expansion of the service and with the arrival of extra nursing staff, a pharmacist, a physiotherapist and a social worker, the palliative care team became truly multidisciplinary. It wasn’t just about the growth of a team but also of a greater dream: that of a new, purpose built unit where the people of Cork would have a ‘state of the art’ facility that would ensure the comfort, dignity and best possible quality of life and of care for all patients. It was a time of excitement and enthusiasm.
Looking back, I suppose none of us thought that it would be a quick and painless process but there were times when I thought that the new building would not happen during my working life. Gradually, however, with much effort on the part of staff, board members, volunteer fundraisers and a large cash injection from a philanthropic organisation, the project began to take shape. The first sod was turned and the dream started to become a reality. We weren’t just moving the hospice service but also residents from the long-term elderly care service for whom our old, out-dated building had become home. Planning meetings, information meetings, equipment meetings, site visits, listing and labelling items for transfer, policies, procedures and finally, packing – all on top of the daily work of patient care which continued as before.
Perhaps the true emotional impact of moving only hit me on the day of the move. That old building was part of the fabric of Cork city for more than 140 years. The Irish Sisters of Charity had founded the hospital/hospice to care for the people of Cork who, in turn, supported the Sisters in so many ways over the years. My mother had died in the hospice four years previously and my father had been cared for in the long-stay ward for three years following a stroke. It was the close of a personal chapter for me.
But on 17 September 2011 a new chapter began for all of us. A fleet of ambulances, led by a police escort, crossed the city and we received our first patients. The decision to transfer some patients was made just an hour before the move as some were very unwell. The sense of achievement (and relief!) was enormous. We are now ‘growing into’ our new building. It is full of light and space. The patients each have their own en suite room with rooms available for families to stay overnight if necessary. And gradually, the new community into which we have moved is beginning to embrace us. Each day we have offers of assistance from people who wish to become volunteers. We look forward to continuing the proud tradition that began in Cork more than 140 years ago with renewed energy and commitment.
A short film, made by M3TV Production in association with TV3, follows the final preparations and a ward round before Marymount Hospice moves into its new premises. Watch the Marymount Hospice film here.