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Very frightening Head of INMO says better hospital security needed after tragic Joe McCarron incident

'There is, in this country, an anti-vaccination group that are trying to get inroads into certain areas'

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Joe McCarron (67) from Dungloe, left Letterkenny hospital when encouraged to do so by anti-vaccine campaigners even as staff tried to persuade him not to leave

Joe McCarron (67) from Dungloe, left Letterkenny hospital when encouraged to do so by anti-vaccine campaigners even as staff tried to persuade him not to leave

Joe McCarron (67) from Dungloe, left Letterkenny hospital when encouraged to do so by anti-vaccine campaigners even as staff tried to persuade him not to leave

The head of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has called for better security in hospitals following an incident in Letterkenny when a patient was encouraged to leave despite being very ill with Covid-19. 

General secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said the issue was highlighted when the patient, Joe McCarron (67) from Dungloe, left Letterkenny hospital when encouraged to do so by anti-vaccine campaigners even as staff tried to persuade him not to leave.

Even though Mr McCarron was readmitted to the hospital a day later and put on a ventilator he subsequently died without regaining consciousness.

Speaking on RTE with Claire Byrne, Ms Ní Sheaghdha said the issue that has arisen is that, “there is, in this country, an anti-vaccination group that are trying to get inroads into certain areas”.

“We saw what happened in in Letterkenny where the terrible incident of (them) actually attending a hospital and trying to get a patient who was vulnerable to discharge and to self-discharge," she said.

“I really think that the issue for us right now is the security and information,” she said. “(We need) security to ensure that the incident that happened in Letterkenny is not repeated.

“We've asked the HSE to ensure that they have security measures in place that prevents that, because healthcare workers are busy enough. They do not need to be dealing with misinformation and that type of behaviour towards very sick and vulnerable people.

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Antonio Mureddu Gravegliu allegedly encouraged Mr McCarron to leave the hospital in County Donegal

Antonio Mureddu Gravegliu allegedly encouraged Mr McCarron to leave the hospital in County Donegal

Antonio Mureddu Gravegliu allegedly encouraged Mr McCarron to leave the hospital in County Donegal

 

“It's very frightening (for healthcare workers),” she added. “But I think it is fair to say from my observation of the video that the healthcare workers acted very professionally. They spoke directly to the patient and they asked him to reconsider.”

Ms Ní Sheaghdha said they had been calling for a review of security “in all settings for a number of months” as members are facing an “increase in assault and verbal abuse”.

“We know that in other hospitals, unfortunately, the incidences of assault has increased.

“We've asked for a specific review of security measures because, remember, we now have two different streams of care.

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“We have covid care and non-covid care and we have real concerns around the reduction in staff because staff are trying to provide two services and there is an increase in assault and verbal abuse that members are facing.”

Mr McCarron who died from the virus was buried on Sunday following his funeral mass at St Crona's Church in Dungloe.

However, at least five people were asked to leave the church because they were not wearing facemasks in line with Government guidelines.

Gardai have confirmed they attended the church after a report was made to them of people not wearing facemasks.

A Garda spokesperson confirmed "Gardaí received report of a number of people inside a church not wearing face coverings in Dungloe Co. Donegal on the 26th September 2021.

"Gardaí attended and provided advice to those present. No offences disclosed. Enquiries ongoing.

"The Health Act 1947 (Sections 31AB and 31AD) (COVID-19) (Operation of Certain Indoor Premises) Regulations 2021, SI 385/2021, came into operation on the 26th July 2021. Members of An Garda Síochána are not a ‘compliance officer’ in respect of these Regulations."

Mr McCarron, who is survived by his wife Una, made international headlines last week when he was encouraged to leave Letterkenny University Hospital by anti-vaccine protestors.

His funeral Mass heard of the fragility of life, and of the heartache and loss suffered by his family and friends.

Father Eddie Gallagher told mourners: “This is a very sad day, and we think of the bereaved who are broken-hearted on this day.”

“The best gift, the only gift, we can give to Joe McCarron today is our prayers.”

“The person who will miss Joe most of all is his wife Una,” said Fr Gallagher. “We offer our prayers and sympathy to Una who today is widowed and broken-hearted.”

Mr McCarron, born in 1954, was a former radio DJ who was well-known in Dungloe. More recently, he was a carer to his wife of 38 years, Una.

A special welcome was given to Joe’s friends at the Mass, especially those in the AA fellowship.

“He was a very long time in the AA fraternity, and some are here today to remember Joe and honour his memory,” Fr Gallagher said.

Gardaí have also appointed a senior investigating officer to oversee an investigation into recent incidents at Letterkenny University Hospital.

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