BALLINADEE-born Pat McCluskey has been named Cork Person of the Month.
Pat, who now lives in Curraheen in Bishopstown, is an advanced nurse practitioner in the area of wound care at Cork University Hospital, where she is now caring for Covid-19 patients.
The award was presented in recognition of her 30-years of service at CUH, as well as her volunteer work with the charity Facing Africa.
Pat said: ‘I am proud to be a nurse in CUH during this current epidemic, where the management and teamwork across all disciplines has been inspirational.’
‘It’s lovely,’ she added, ‘to receive this award for the whole team – the nurses, doctors, management, catering, cleaners, porters etc – as it takes a team to make the system work.’
Pat’s expertise is in the treatment of the pressure damage caused to the skin of Covid-19 patients who have to be ventilated, and minimising their discomfort.
She described how patients are nursed in the prone position, which is very rare, and how their wounds can be problematic.
As a newly qualified nurse and midwife, Pat spent two years in Zambia in the early 1980s and it was always her wish to return.
She did that in 2015, when she became involved with Facing Africa, a charity founded by Chris and Terry Lawrence to help with the treatment of people suffering from Noma infection.
Noma usually affects people living in extreme poverty. It is an opportunistic infection that leads to a severe disfiguring gangrene of the mouth and face.
Pat was part of an initial team of four from CUH that travelled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Every year since, the team has been returning to Africa for what they call the ‘May Missions.’
Patients are assessed and admitted, and surgery is often performed at the NCM hospital in Addis Ababa, however, reconstruction may take many surgeries.
The training Pat provides in wound care has also helped Ethiopian nurses to gain experience and one of those nurses, Tihitna Tafete, has been to Ireland to complete a Master’s in Public Health, a move that was facilitated by CUH and UCC.
Pat said she was delighted to receive the award, but she was adamant: ‘The work I do is not for recognition. It is not a hardship. I have loved my nursing career.’