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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 27 May, 2020
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Munster Rugby doctor joins frontline fight against Covid-19 as remote training continues

In addition to his role with the southern province, Dr Jamie Kearns has just returned to work at University Hospital Galway.

Munster rugby head of medical Jamie Kearns.
Munster rugby head of medical Jamie Kearns.

MUNSTER RUGBY HEAD of Medical Dr Jamie Kearns has joined the frontline fight against the Covid-19 coronavirus.

For the coming weeks, Dr Kearns will juggle his job with the southern province with work in University Hospital Galway’s emergency department.

The Galway native was keen to help out locally, and the news was confirmed by Munster in a statement last night.

“I was very lucky, I spoke to Munster and they were very supportive of my desire to go back and try and help out locally,” Kearns said.

I worked in the Emergency department in Galway for a number of years so I’d know a lot of the staff there very well and knew there was a need to get extra staff in. Both to cope with the number of people coming in but also the fact that a quarter of the people who get the infection are health care workers and then the number of people who have to go into isolation because of the infection or being exposed.

“With Munster’s support it’s something I feel privileged to go back and do and I feel lucky that I’m in that situation because I feel for a number of people at the minute, when it’s such an uncertain time and you don’t know what’s coming down the road, having the ability to affect some sort of change is a real positive. It allows me the opportunity to go in and contribute something to the work that so many people are doing in the hospital.

“There’s a number of doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants, cleaners – I don’t think people see that, the people who come in for not a huge amount of money to make this sacrifice in what is a very high risk environment. I think it’s important that all those people are recognised for what they do.”

Today’s figures from the Department of Health show a total of 5,709 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland. A further 36 people have died, bringing the total number of deaths here to 210. 

Dr Kearns, who is one of many overseeing Munster’s third week of remote training, is trying to take the positives from an extremely dark time.

“From a society point of view, what I think has happened in a horrible set of circumstances is that we’ve brought focus on something that is so important and maybe has been neglected for a long number of years which is our health and the service that is there for people when they aren’t well, that we provide a really good service,” he said.

I think that’s being highlighted in terms of the people who go in working there, they’re doing that all the time anyway. I think it’s just now in this crisis that people see what they’re doing and I think it’s really important that we put a huge value on that as a society.

“From a community point of view, sport brings people together, it gives people something to focus on and bond over. From everyone I’ve talked to, it’s the same in the health service now where everyone feels like a team trying to fight towards a purpose.”

In the update from Munster, it was confirmed that Johann van Graan’s side will complete this four-week block of remote training with another down week next week — an opportunity to switch off, and break up the home training schedule which currently runs until mid-May.

Although separate from each other, players have been split into small groups for monitoring purposes — and to create a bond and decrease feelings of isolation.

Kearns added, on how the squad are dealing with the current situation:

“We’re in a very privileged position and the guys all recognise that. They see the importance of what’s going on externally while they maintain their focus on what their job is and how important is it for them to be fit and ready for when the season hopefully starts again.

“There’s a 100% buy-in from the players.”

The majority of players with rehabilitation programmes are “very close to getting back to play” and there are “very few guys who actually needed hands-on treatment,” Kearns also noted.

Read the full update here.

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Emma Duffy

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