Pulmonary Hypertension Unit

Tour d’Irlande East – an experience to remember!

Saturday 24 May was a damp, dull morning  – but the spirits of our brave cyclists were not dampened by such trivialities as the weather.   These guys were on a mission – to visit their colleagues in the new Ireland East Hospital Group while raising much needed funds to complete the 3rd Catheterisation Laboratory in the Mater Hospital.  The hospitals in the new group are:  Mater University Hospital, St Vincent’s University Hospital, National Maternity Hospital, St Michael’s Dun Laoghaire, St Colmcilles Hospital, Loughlinstown, Royal Victoria Eye & Ear Hospital,  Wexford General Hospital, St Lukes Hospital Kilkenny, Midlands Regional Hospital Mullingar, Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan&Cappagh Orthopaedic Hospital.

I arrived early to the meeting point at the Centre for Lung Health where we had stored the specially commissioned cycling jerseys, first aid equipment (which thankfully wasn’t needed), bottles of water, bars, bananas etc.  Consultant staff  & friends from the Mater University Hospital, Mater Private Hospital & Galway Regional Hospital arrived to collect their packs.  We also had staff from the Catering & Maintenance Dept in the Mater Private Hospital join the group as did 3 members of staff from Daiichi Sankyo.   When all cyclists were togged out, armed with sufficient supplies to keep them going till our first stop – it was time to pose for photographs outside the main hospital steps on Eccles Street.  We were delighted to see the Sisters of Mercy had come out in force to see us off and somehow, we knew their prayers would keep us safe.  A Garda escort brought us across town as far as the National Maternity Hospital, Holles St.

Along the way we stopped at the hospitals in our group and took photos for posterity.  When we got  onto the R741 – the boys started to gather speed, I thought to myself – these guys are really moving and shuddered to think that in a moment of lunacy I had considered joining them  on one of the stages myself!!  It probably sounds quite naïve but I felt a huge sense of pride when I saw the pelathon speeding along the way in the fab blue jerseys we had designed for the occasion.

Stage 1 was a long journey – 150 km.  Our first stop was a quickie in Gorey  for sustenance, ablution etc then back on the saddle and on to Wexford General Hospital where we met with Dr Colm Quigley, Clinical Director & colleagues.  We are most grateful to all who took the time to come to meet us on a sunny, Saturday evening.

Next morning  (Sunday) we set off around 11 am to Kilkenny.  Arrived at our hotel around 3 pm having stopped along the way in the Old Schoolhouse Café for refreshments.  This café was originally built in 1703 as a Merchant’s House along the banks of the River Nore.  The scenery was breath-taking and the home baking was just what our team needed to bring them to their destination. The team was glad to have a few hours of rest and peace in Kilkenny.

At 9.00 am on Monday morning Prof Gaine & Prof Sugrue met with Dr Garry Courtney and his colleagues in St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny  for Grand Rounds.  Roads from Kilkenny to Mullingar were narrow and more difficult for traffic to pass etc. so the cyclists had to spread out in single file to avoid traffic build up. This was a really busy day as the consultants were scheduled to make a presentation to the Midland Clinical Society  at 7.00 pm in Mullingar that evening.   This was facilitated by Dr Mark Sheehy, Consultant Respiratory Physician,  Midlands Regional Hospital, Mullingar.  We were very pleased to have an audience of over 40 general practitioners and hospital consultants.

Tuesday, 27 May was our last morning and we set off in beautiful sunshine (incidentally the rest of the country were experiencing downpours in certain pockets – but thankfully we avoided all of them over the four days).  We set off for Our Lady’s Hospital,  Navan where we were met by Dr Billy Bourke, Clinical Director & Ms Margaret Swords, Group CEO.   There we had a round table discussion followed by lunch.  At around 3 pm we left Navan and headed back to the Mater and received an enthusiastic welcome from our colleagues.  A mini symposium entitled Innovations in Cardiovascular& Respiratory Medicine was held in the Fintan Gunne Lecture Theatre.

The aim of the cycle was to raise funds for a third Catheterisation Laboratory in the Mater Hospital and also to meet with our new colleagues in the Ireland East Hospital Group.  We are happy to say that we were successful in achieving both our aims and are indebted to the members of the Pulmonary Hypertension Association who donated €15,000 towards the development. In total we raised over €80,000 for completion of the Catheterisation Laborary.  We are very happy to inform you the Cathlab is now open and fully operational within the Mater Hospital.

On reflection of the event, it was an extremely enjoyable experience and thankfully we had no mishaps.  There was one person who ensured that everything went to plan and that was Declan Traynor.  Declan drove the support van (which was kindly lent to us by Silverdome Electric) The contents of the van were capable of caring for all eventualities – even though, the only mishaps (if we could call them that) were two punctures, which were repaired with a speed & efficiency which would impress Vincenzo Nibali himself !

It is important that we should also acknowledge the generous support received from the following companies:  Actelion, Astra Zeneca, Bayer,Boehringer Ingelheim, Daiichi Sankyo, Edwards Life Sciences, Mater Private Hospital, Menerini,  Novartis, Sword Medical.

Will we make this an annual event – just for the fun of it ……… watch this space !

If you’d like to see more images from the event please visit an album of photos on our flickr page at this link.

 

Regina Prenderville

Project Manager

Pulmonary Hypertension Association