BALLINROBE native Mary Walsh, who appears in the first episode of the new RTÉ documentary series ‘The Nurse’, says she believes the series will give an accurate reflection of what it is like to be a nurse in the challenging environs of modern day Ireland.
Mary Walsh has been the nurse on Inishbofin for the past four years. When on the island, she is on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. She says, “The islanders are my patients and I’m the nurse, and that’s just it. This is completely different to mainland nursing or hospital nursing: if there is an emergency here there is no hospital just around the corner. I’m on my own, relying on the boat or the helicopter to get my patients of the Island.”
Speaking to The Mayo News from Melbourne, Australia where she is enjoying a working holiday Mary said she found the filming and production process very interesting however she admits that she believed it was a wind-up when she was first approached in relation to the series.
“I was approached by Mairead Tucker, a producer with GMarshTV and I thought it was one of my friends messing initially. I would be very far removed from the television side of things and it was very different to what I would have imagined. In hindsight though I’m glad I did it”.
The Nurse is a gripping and intimate documentary series that follows the daily lives of six nurses, their patients and their communities. It follows community nurses who work at the frontline of the Health Service from Inishbofin Island to Inner City Dublin, Castleknock to Coolock, and from Cavan to Clare.
Mary continued, “I think it will give an accurate reflection of what community nursing is all about. If you don’t need a public nurse then you don’t see us. If we’re needed we’re really needed, so it’ll show the work and challenges we meet on a daily basis in society in six very different locations”.
She added, “In a place like Inishboffin you have huge responsibilities because we are out at sea seven miles in to the Atlantic. There’s a doctor on call in Clifden but sometimes [in an emergency situation] there is time constraints to get out there. If you need prescriptions or advice your first port of call is a long way away so you have to get in touch with the mainland and say exactly what’s in front of you.”
Mary said it can sometimes take up to three hours to get a patient from Inishboffin to University Hospital Galway (UHG) and this time can be critical in an emergency situation. She insists while nurses in some public hospitals can temporarily switch off between shifts this is not possible in her role as a community nurse in an isolated area.
“Different things can happen but you are always hoping that the worst case scenario can be avoided. You have to be ready to drop everything and be ready to go and help somebody all of the time.”
She concluded, “You have to factor in what are the sea conditions like and is the patient going to be comfortable if conditions are bad. It takes a little bit of getting used to. You are relying on people with basic first aid to assist you in a lot of instances and to give you a hand.”
Crossmolina based TV production company GMarshTV who produced ‘The Nurse’ have an outstanding track record in observational documentaries such as ‘Vets on Call’, ‘Living the Wildlife’ and ‘Seahorse Man’. They have stated that the premise of the series is to reflect the commitment and humanity that community nurses show, while they added that they believe viewers will be transfixed by the courage, resilience of the nurses and the good humour of their patients.
‘The Nurse’ begins on RTÉ1 on Thursday January 12, 2012 at 10.15 pm.