‘The entire nation is grateful’ – TV star Graham Norton praises ICU heroes as Covid charity cycle gets underway in Waterford
Intensive Care Unit (ICU) doctors, nurses and staff at St Luke’s Hospital and ICU teams from all over Ireland this morning set off on a cycle to Dublin in aid of four charities who have been severely affected by the Covid-19 crisis.
The ICU 4 U Charity Cycle aims to raise €100,000 for Alone (older people), Breakthrough Cancer Research (new cancer treatments), Aware (mental health) and ICU steps (ICU patient aftercare support).
Several high-profile ambassadors have come on board to help promote the charity initiative, including TV celebrity Graham Norton, champion Olympic rower Paul O’Donovan, and hotelier and TV personality John Brennan, who has been cocooning with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
The concept for the charity cycle arose as many Irish doctors, nurses and ancillary staff of the Intensive Care Units across the country said that, although they immensely appreciate the ongoing support of the Irish public throughout the pandemic, they are uncomfortable being labelled “heroic” and “frontline” and want to turn the focus back on the patients and the supporting charities that help the most vulnerable in society.
The team has already raised more than half of the €100,000 target thanks to incredible support from corporate sponsors, including lead sponsor AerCap, gold sponsors Eli Lily and BNP Paribas, silver sponsors Pfizer and Gilead, and other supporters.
Dr Niall Kavanagh, Consultant Anaesthestist at St Luke’s Hospital, said: “Many ICU staff are uncomfortable with being put up on a pedestal during the Crisis, as we are just doing our jobs albeit in challenging times.
“We are extremely grateful for the gifts we received from the public but we need to put the focus back where it is most needed – with the patients and charities.
“The impact of Covid-19 reaches far beyond the ICU, and we are only beginning to see the secondary challenges, in particular with the elderly, those in nursing homes, those experiencing anxiety and mental illness, Covid-19 ICU survivors, and cancer patients who are particularly vulnerable to the virus, have had their diagnosis delayed, and urgently need new treatments.”
ICU 4 U Ambassador, Graham Norton, who launched the campaign, said: “The entire nation is grateful to these incredible doctors and their teams who have been working tirelessly in the ICU to keep our most vulnerable safe. But the modest bunch who have been putting their lives at risk throughout this pandemic say it’s just their job and I applaud them for leading the way in putting the public focus back on supporting charities who badly need funding.”
The 2-day ICU 4 U Cycle, cognisant of any restrictions that will be in place in any county due to Covid, starts this morning from five locations in Ireland – Belfast, Galway, Limerick, Cork and Waterford (which the Kilkenny team will join) – and will end tomorrow at the Phoenix Park, Dublin, where the teams of 15 cyclists will meet and cycle together towards Aras an Uachtarain.
A smaller group will then cycle on through central Dublin to the College of Anaesthesiology of Ireland in Merrion Square (the home of both the Intensive Care Society of Ireland and the Joint Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine of Ireland) and another small group will cycle on to the Mater Hospital, where the most severely ill ICU patients are sometimes sent for ECMO treatment (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation). This is also the hospital that managed a significant number of Covid-19 patients.
PHOTO: L to R: Eve Geraghty Physiotherapist ICU, Mick Battle Paramedic, Niall Kavanagh Anaesthetist, Marie White Theatre Nurse, Steven McDonald Security ICU, Betty Byrne Theatre Nurse