Bringing Design Closer with Gerry Scullion

Sarah Kearns 'Life as a nurse in Ireland - A peek behind the curtain'

John Carter
January 6, 2023
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Sarah Kearns 'Life as a nurse in Ireland - A peek behind the curtain'

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Episode shownotes

I caught up with Sarah Kearns, a nurse from Dublin, Ireland. Myself and Sarah connected through a mutual desire to create a service to reward the incredible nurses, alongside the incredibly talented Amy Huberman in Ireland - and the 3 of us are working on a project at the moment called Thank You Nurses. More on that later in this episode.

In this episode you will hear the real life stories from Sarah of what life is and was life during the global pandemic, how hard these incredible people work. I wanted to shine a light on this area of society, where the work we do as system and service designers has an direct relationship often with life and death -

I don’t say this lightly, but Sarah is one of my heroes. They all are. I know you’re going to love this episode.

Episode Transcript

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[00:00:00] Sarah Kearns: I remember standing in an emergency department and it was so busy. I was holding a unit of blood in my left hand and I had a bed pan in the crook of my arm. I was holding two patients notes, platelets in the other stuff, something banana like if someone asked me to hold something, I couldn't. Right. I was absolutely maxed out and somebody handed me the, To answer a patient query.

[00:00:24] Sarah Kearns: And I remember just starting to cry and there was three people waiting to ask me questions. And I remember just going, guys, what am I meant to do here?

[00:00:36] Gerry Scullion: Hello and welcome to this is eight cd. My name is Jerry Scullion and I'm a designer, educator, and the host of this eight CD based in the wonderful city of Dublin, Ireland. Our goal here is start conversations and inspire and help move the dial forward for organizations to become more human-centered in their approach to solving complex business and societal problems.

[00:00:56] Gerry Scullion: I caught up recently with Sarah Kearns, a nurse from Dub. [00:01:00] Ireland and myself and Sarah connected through a mutual desire to create a new service to reward their incredible nurses alongside the incredibly talented Amy Huberman in Ireland. And all three of us are working on a project at the moment called Thank You Nurses.

[00:01:14] Gerry Scullion: More than that later on in this episode. But anyway, you'll hear. Real life stories from Sarah and what life was like during the Global Pandemic and how hard these incredible people work on a day-to-day basis. I wanted to shine a light on this area of society where the work that we do is system and service designers has often a direct relationship with life and death.

[00:01:34] Gerry Scullion: Now, don't say this lightly, but Sarah really is truly one of my heroes, but they all are, and I know you're gonna love this. Now if you like what we're doing at SS eight cd, please help us out with leaving or review wherever you listen to the podcast. It only takes a couple of minutes and really helps in the findability.

[00:01:50] Gerry Scullion: Now, did you know that 70% of you listening have not subscribed to the Little Bell and Spotify, or followed on Google Podcast or Apple Podcast? So please take the [00:02:00] time to follow this podcast on whatever platform you're doing at the moment. Really. Now if you want to go one better, you can become a patron and you can get an ad free stream of the podcast for as little as one Euro 66 per month, and also get a shout out as thanks.

[00:02:13] Gerry Scullion: And there's other plans there where you can get exclusive items too. And as I said, literally all the money goes towards directly to editing and hosting and maintaining our website, which is now a repository for design goodness with over 230, nearly 240 episodes, folks. Anyway, let's jump in. Sarah Kearns, a very warm welcome to this H C D.

[00:02:33] Gerry Scullion: How is it? Good. Thanks for having me on. No worries. Sarah, we, we've connected over the last, uh, six months or so. Um, you're, you're based in Ireland, but you, you've got a, an interesting current role at the moment where you are working at LinkedIn, and we can cover off some of that at the moment. But what we're really interested in, um, let's know, Uh, sort of slant against, uh, LinkedIn.

[00:02:55] Gerry Scullion: We're interested in your previous career as a nurse . Um, and so maybe tell [00:03:00] us a little bit about, you know, how long you practiced as a nurse and where you practiced as a nurse and what area were you working in? Um, as a practitioner. So

[00:03:08] Sarah Kearns: I was a nurse for 14 years. I trained in the, what is, you remember the Adelaide used to be.

[00:03:16] Sarah Kearns: It's a center Dublin, a little spotty uniform as well. But they moved outta to Tallah and um, and they joined the meat hospital. They moved outta to Tallah. So I trained as a nurse in 2003 to 2007 out there. And I worked in the emergency department after that, um, there for a year. And I went to Australia. I lived in Australia and I worked in the Alfred Hospital in.

[00:03:36] Sarah Kearns: And a bit in the Epworth in Melbourne. Yeah. I did that for about a year. Um, and then since then I have worked predominantly in emergency departments on and off, and I trained as a midwife and I have just finished up my career before the moment. I'm, I've taken a bit of a hiatus, but in the intensive care unit.

[00:03:55] Sarah Kearns: In Vincent's Hospital. So I've been, yeah, and I'm, um, I've just like finished a [00:04:00]maternity leave and I've just taken a little bit of a, a step away just for the moment. But I was in, yeah, the ICU for most of the pandemic, maybe half of the pandemic, and then I went off and had a baby. Right.

[00:04:10] Gerry Scullion: There's so much to unpack there.

[00:04:12] Gerry Scullion: I love the way you just, yeah. Like in a typical nurse we used over, you provide so much value in a very short amount of time, was like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. So you're a midwife. You've worked in icu u you've worked in all these different spaces. Now the primary, uh, listener to this is a design practitioners are change makers.

[00:04:31] Gerry Scullion: People who, who want to try and evoke change to make positive impact for, for humans. Who are working in business or society. Okay. So people listening here would be really interested to see how design actually came into your role. Like was, uh, how did you see improvements happen within the hospital space over your time?

[00:04:52] Gerry Scullion: Because you mentioned, I think you qualified in 2004. Is that right?

[00:04:56] Sarah Kearns: A three, 2003. I started my train since [00:05:00] 2007. I finished it as a four year degree program. Okay. There's been so much change. It's so interesting. Um, and we're, and then when actually seeing Irish nursing in comparison to Australia was really big eye-opener.

[00:05:12] Sarah Kearns: Like for example, well, what's funny, we'll go back to it later on, but like, the fact that I'm in LinkedIn, I was laughing. Cause you know, like even the technology, if you think about technology that we use, Medicine or in nursing is new. So it's so incredible and efficient and easier, easy. Predominantly. So, particularly like we, the platform that we used in the intensive care unit was so user-friendly and so easy you could get your head around it in, and the amount of data that it, it, um, used so efficiently, it was extraordinary.

[00:05:45] Sarah Kearns: But like I would've, when I started my nursing training that was on it, we used to have one event an a three piece of. Um, and that's where you kept all your information. But then I suppose that where I suppose nursing [00:06:00] and technology go hand in hand. It is really interesting because. In some ways, I remember typing at a desk, people think when you sit and you type at the end of a patient's bed, you're kind of nearly on Google and taking a bit of a break.

[00:06:12] Sarah Kearns: But when you're physically writing a notes, you were like, I'll be with you again. I see your busy nurse . Really? But I don't think it's the same if you're so there. I dunno. And you know, there is that kind of, um, the ICU is amazing, but even when it comes to anything, when I started. My training, there was a lot of healthcare tendons in particular, and a few nurses that still wore the dresses, like you didn't wear trousers on a daily basis, and even we were wearing these tunics and trousers and they looked smart.

[00:06:41] Sarah Kearns: But they were so uncomfortable. They were fitted tunes. Mm-hmm. . And that has sort of evolved. They still wear them, but a lot of, you know, they'd get them refreshed and designed every couple of years. But then when I, most of my career since I qualified, has been wearing scrubs and they're not as smart, but they're so practical and so comfortable, and you're [00:07:00] very, Um, you know, something spillages and, and bodily foods, could it end up on you at any of all, all calibers, um, can end up on you during the day so you can just do a change of uniform and, and as easy Absolutely.

[00:07:15] Sarah Kearns: Scrub use. Absolutely. It's been amazing. The changes in medicine in the last 14, 15 years has been extraordinary. Let's talk

[00:07:23] Gerry Scullion: about that. I'm just gonna click something here for a sec where I'm gonna record recording in progress some of the videos, cuz I might use some of your. Beautiful video, uh, to share some of this stuff on social media.

[00:07:33] Gerry Scullion: Um, so over the last 14 years, as you said, there's been such a shift because you, you were there just at the drop of the iPhone. Okay. And that typically is, uh, is, is kind of a shift before something happened. Yeah. Just before like 2007, the drop of the iPhone, um, I think I'm right. Anyway, people would be like, no, Jerry, it was 2006.

[00:07:52] Gerry Scullion: I think it was 2000. Things started to change a little bit more. Um, and we were just chatting there before around palliative care and [00:08:00] I c u experiences that I've had over the number of years. My, my father died two years ago and we, we had to have that whole kind of connection, um, and use of technology to bring other family members in cuz it was during the pandemic.

[00:08:12] Gerry Scullion: What was the, what was the single biggest change that you noticed in that period where technology was suddenly being brought into the room, so to speak? And you mentioned there about the a three piece of paper. When you look back on it, what, what, what are your, um, thoughts at that time? Like, are there any anecdotes that you can, you can tell us what, what it was like in that shift?

[00:08:32] Sarah Kearns: Well, you know, there, you know, you're very close to the patient when you, when you had your AP three, um, a three piece of paper and you're at the end of the bed and you'd stand or you'd bring a stool over and you'd write the notes and you always had your eye on the patient. You were very much so with the patient.

[00:08:48] Sarah Kearns: And I think the shift to technology, potentially not in the intensive care unit, but if you can imagine if you. Physically write notes. You can bring them, you can write them sitting on the [00:09:00] patient's bed, sitting on the chair beside the patient. It's all very inclusive, but the move away technology, we haven't quite caught up because I think that, you know, there could be a computer in.

[00:09:10] Sarah Kearns: The nurse's station, which may be in the next room over to the patient's room, that sort of thing. So I don't think we're quite there yet. The first time I ever used technology on a day-to-day, like an ward level, I was in a private hospital in Dublin. Um, and. They had it and we had, we had a lot of, there was a lot of laughter in it cuz it was computer on wheels, the cow, and like everyone like rolling around laughing, but like for about a year saying, well, did we move over your cow?

[00:09:36] Sarah Kearns: Like, it was brilliant. But that was very, that was my first, but it was a kind of a, an arduous. Platform. Like it was just really sort of hard and, and what was interesting for me is going from written notes where you would really get in depth, you'd be in a flow and you're typing away. And I think that probably notes got shorter.

[00:09:56] Sarah Kearns: I don't know where. I it, I'd love to look back at the data. It [00:10:00] was such a change in how we even wrote about our patients throughout the day. I dunno, were we missing any particular detail? But now it is particularly in the intensive care unit, so our monitors. Hook up now to computers that are in every room and onto this gorgeous platform.

[00:10:19] Sarah Kearns: Um, everything just the flow is so easy and you can, if you could imagine the physical tracking, which would've been done like from dot joining dots in a temperature sort of like, looks like a top of a mountain range that is now all plotted out for you. So it is definitely improved. You know, medical notes note taking massively so, but it has been bizarre when you're saying the iPhone, the first time I ever came across an iPhone when I was traveling in Australia in 2008, but when I was in college, There was none.

[00:10:49] Sarah Kearns: We were on naia some things. Yeah, I think we were able to take crappy pictures. Cause I remember being in at a party in Trinity and the Phil in Trinity had invited out. Patty Cosgrave was involved in [00:11:00]this inviting over Ron, Jeremy, you know the foreign star.

[00:11:03] Gerry Scullion: Yeah. We. Well, no, I mean I don't,

[00:11:08] Sarah Kearns: the eye is wide, but it was actually the most interesting talk.

[00:11:11] Sarah Kearns: I know he's, um, he's um, there a lot have come out re recently about him just not being great. But back, it was fascinating. There had been a recent outbreak in h I v in porn, in the porn industry and he gave big to, it was amazing, but. We had Sharpies and we got him to sign the top of our chest. Ron was here and we were taking pictures on a crappy.

[00:11:32] Gerry Scullion: Ladies and gentlemen, as you can see, I need to have a disclaimer on this episode with Sarah Kern. Sarah Kearns is, um, absolutely hilarious. We've met up in person and, and had a lot of laughs. Um,

[00:11:44] Sarah Kearns: I wanna ask you, my dad relieved he didn't know who he

[00:11:46] Gerry Scullion: was. . Oh yeah, I'm sure. I'm sure. Yeah. Like, like, like I just fainted in, uh, interest.

[00:11:52] Gerry Scullion: Come here. You mentioned there about the iPhone and you had your knocks and stuff like that. But when you look back at that period, and [00:12:00] also now, like up until recently, oh, within the last 18 months you were working as a nurse, like in in Irish hospitals, in in the ICUs. What have we lost through the introduction of technology into the systems of healthcare?

[00:12:14] Gerry Scullion: What do you feel? We've, we've lost,

[00:12:16] Sarah Kearns: well, certainly as an absolute basis. Um, I, I think there is, Extra level of anxiety, possibly privacy. And I, because as in Temple Street with my littlest, um, uh, after fe seizure on Wednesday. Yeah. And on the walls, they have signs everywhere going, please no recording or video, um, taking videos inside the department and, and they're, they're all over the walls.

[00:12:41] Sarah Kearns: And if you can imagine, what? I took a picture of Theo in my arms, right? A selfie theo to, to reassure my husband to whatever, look at his colors and . But when you think about it, what if I took a picture of somebody accidentally of mm-hmm. Or even do you know, a [00:13:00] huge part of it. There was a story that, that element of privacy, people taking photographs of me in my work.

[00:13:09] Sarah Kearns: Yeah, potentially and people maybe putting good upon face. This was the nurse that was looking after me because medical litigation and everything. You know, if you could think even that element of things, I think that it is a, it, it is unnerving and we were talking about an incident of a, a famous per person being caught, caught snug on someone.

[00:13:26] Sarah Kearns: Um, not caught but like filmed, caught snogging. Someone on Thursday last week or whatever last weekend and that, that element of privacy being gone like it, what I think in some ways social media. Has been the best thing to happen society, but has also been the worst. Yeah. When you that, that I, I do know of a case that, um, there was a, an, uh, perceived error made by, um, a healthcare member and a photograph of them was taken.

[00:13:54] Sarah Kearns: Somebody knew their name, you can just put their name into Facebook. Oh, there they are. They were in Lanza last week. And then a [00:14:00] post put up about them. This person did X, Y, and Z has resulted in these adverse reactions. And like, it's, it's sort of, you know, the, I remember being th that this particular incidence was, um, about a midwife.

[00:14:12] Sarah Kearns: And I remember thinking, God, that is just, you know, it's, it's, you know, no jury, you know, trial, just all social media such around that element of privacy has gone however, Definitely in Covid. It was fascinating and amazing to have technology. For example, there was so many times, if you think about the first wave, I was there for the first, um, and halfway through the second wave I was pregnant with my third baby.

[00:14:36] Sarah Kearns: So we were all sent home. Do you remember that at Christmas 21? Yeah. We sent home because, um, it's so. Yeah. Um, you had to be pregnant at that time. Um, and, and it was a really savage, that second wave of covid was really savage and healthcare members got sick. It was around the Christmas, remember the vaccines came in in mid-January.

[00:14:57] Sarah Kearns: Mm-hmm. . So we, all the healthcare [00:15:00] members, um, were, were, yeah, to top the queue. And they were, uh, there was a bit of safety brought in with the vaccine, but, um, If you think about it, there was, remember the at the beginning and for particularly first or second wave, if you were close contact, you had to isolate and all that sort of, it's still the same now, right?

[00:15:16] Sarah Kearns: But uh, as a result we had like nurses in general or di whatever, it would all tell you probably stories, the same thing that the we patients that were dying, but because C, it didn't matter if they were a daughter or cousin or whatever, it didn't matter how close they were to the person, if they were close contact, they couldn't come into the hospital.

[00:15:33] Sarah Kearns: That's right. So there was. Incredibly awful stories of people dying and their daughter couldn't come in or their That's right. Never. I just can't even put it as a result, we were then on WhatsApp video calling and I used my own personal phone on millions of occasions. Yeah. Where people. Wanting to bring them in.

[00:15:55] Sarah Kearns: Lovely. Seeing someone, or even someone maybe that they've just recently woken up or [00:16:00] mm-hmm. I noticed that.

[00:16:01] Gerry Scullion: Lovely to see someone. Yeah. I noticed that an awful lot. But I just wanna take you back to, um, what we were talking there about social media, um, and, and data. Okay. So, so one of the biggest instances in, in Irish kind of recent history is the Vicki Fielden case where, um, Vicki Fielden was you.

[00:16:24] Gerry Scullion: She went through this whole kind of litigation process with the government. She found, uh, her notes at the end of her bed or by the consultant, I think it was, and it showed that, you know, she had been, um, presented back with, with false records. Is that right On, on her, on her smear tests.

[00:16:43] Sarah Kearns: It was an A, like by chance finding of her.

[00:16:46] Sarah Kearns: She read her medical notes and discovered that they were aware that she had got a false negative on her smear test several years before by chance. Yeah. So, you know, in maternity. . This is really [00:17:00]interesting topic. Yeah. And I'm no expert and, but I'm, I happy happily give my opinion on this. Yeah. In maternity care you have access to your notes.

[00:17:09] Sarah Kearns: Now this has changed since Covid and I'm unsure. It's all gone to, I know. A lot of the maternity hospitals, they've now gone on to the computer system. But traditionally the, you took your notes home with you and you took them back in for your appointments and it makes the flow of coming to regular appointments easier because if you think, right, so you have an outpatients appointment, so a Doctor X is holding their clinic for their patients, okay?

[00:17:34] Sarah Kearns: Mm-hmm. in order, in order for him to have or her to have all the inform. On the patients, they basically make a list of everyone's coming and then someone goes down to the whatever room and picks up the medical notes and then brings them up and they have this stack of medical notes waiting for people, Mrs.

[00:17:51] Sarah Kearns: X or Mr. Whoever to come in. You, the doctor, takes the the chart and have the look on the nurses, write the notes. The flow is a lot easier. [00:18:00] When somebody takes home, their notes themselves, then just brings it back into clinic, except when you forget it. , which

[00:18:06] Gerry Scullion: is a bit of a disaster. Yeah. When When you say they, you mean the doctors?

[00:18:09] Gerry Scullion: The doctors or the consultants takes the notes home? No, the patient. The patient

[00:18:13] Sarah Kearns: takes, that was traditionally how it did, so you would have your notes. Yeah, with you all the time. So when you came in, in labor, and actually, actually that was sort of an interesting thing because, well, not that you'd have it away, but that has all been changed since Covid, so they weren't.

[00:18:28] Sarah Kearns: Given the note out, giving notes out because you know, they were saying that, you know, COVID was obviously transmissible through surfaces and all that sort stuff that had changed. But here's the counterargument to it. I think that people should have access to their medical records hundred present and what happened?

[00:18:45] Sarah Kearns: Vicky should not have happened. Yeah. Everything about that was wrong. But here's the interesting thing. What if I as a midwife or a nurse needed to write. A piece of information that, for example, [00:19:00]that I suspected domestic abuse. Mm. So there's, you know, or something, some information about somebody that was really integral, that was really sensitive.

[00:19:11] Sarah Kearns: Yeah. But really important is so private. Where do the notes fit into that? And that's where the technology is good. Cause they can have them. Or for example, if I'm a staff member and I'm going into hospital, Um, a procedure and I, maybe I have type one diabetes and I'm really public about it, but what if I didn't want people to know about that?

[00:19:31] Sarah Kearns: Do you know what I mean? Yeah. And just say, I'm having procedure and maybe in the hospital that I work in and people just like imagining that people a private notes, they never would Yeah. Private notes and they're reading them. So there is that element of privacy. So I, I wonder, you know, the, now I know that when it is they, if a staff member or somebody.

[00:19:49] Sarah Kearns: Who has, who is extra private notes, you know, that extra layer. Yeah. Privacy, you have to do it. And your staff member trying to get into another staff member is no, you, you, it'll be restricted. Yeah. So there, [00:20:00] they have brought in things, but I did, you know, I think to that transition, I wonder what slipped through the net?

[00:20:05] Gerry Scullion: Who, who would own the data? And that instance, would it, how do you see that fitting in? Would it be at the hospital level or would it be at a government level and or it be at your health provider level, like Vhi or Alay or who, who do you. As being, uh, obviously it would be great if the, the patient was able to own it, like if there was some sort of system there.

[00:20:24] Gerry Scullion: The

[00:20:25] Sarah Kearns: hospital, I'm pretty sure that it's a hospital for a certain period and then they are obliged to hold onto it. That's why you see a lot of cases. Um, for example, litigation. Um, cases taken against hospitals, but they're, they're obliged to hold onto notes for a certain length of time, 25

[00:20:44] Gerry Scullion: years. Yeah. And probably with GDPR as well, there's,

[00:20:46] Sarah Kearns: yeah, but I think it has, has opened up because it should be, you should have full access to your medical notes.

[00:20:52] Sarah Kearns: But then the interesting thing is that, you know, you should have full access, but I think there has to be [00:21:00] education brought in to having access because there could be blood tests just. run as you know, when you go in, you say, Hey, doctor or nurse, I have a pain in my tummy me. The differential diagnosis is, is wide open.

[00:21:13] Sarah Kearns: It could be from anything from your constipated up to you of cancer. So it could be, or an aism or something serious. So there could be a wide differential of diagnosis. And actually you, that's where it's sort of that, um, discovery, you know that that questioning Yeah. Is the same in sales. You need to like get down to the root cause of the problem.

[00:21:30] Sarah Kearns: But you know, if you, imagine if you had access to your notes and you. Somebody's doing cancer bloods. You should be, I suppose you should know what, why somebody's doing a blood test on you. But then there's that level of fear and not everyone wants to know. Yeah. You know, the amount of people it is, it's a funny, I think it, there could be massive amounts of gray areas, but I do think that technology, the idea that I could be in, um, you know, done a goal on my, my, my summer holidays and I found collapsed, right?

[00:21:57] Sarah Kearns: I'm brought in, they find, my name is Sarah [00:22:00] Curs. Um, and they go on to some. Nationwide DA database. They type in Sarah curtains they come up with and they see, they're able to see then and there that I have type one diabetes. Like that's transformative In terms of

[00:22:12] Gerry Scullion: healthcare, that that is something that can happen right now, is that what you're

[00:22:15] Sarah Kearns: saying?

[00:22:15] Sarah Kearns: No, they're working towards it. Yeah. That national database.

[00:22:18] Gerry Scullion: Yeah, I mean, from my own personal, um, case, like this year has been a rotten year for me folks. Um, my mom got co covid in in June and had covid complications. Everything that everyone does not want to hear when you're, um, the youngest child. I'm very close to my mom and I had to basically intervene with the, the hospital and, and be the next kin and.

[00:22:40] Gerry Scullion: Like the people in Beaumont Hospital, were, were just out of this world like the, the angels. Okay. And that's ultimately why myself and yourself connected through, through Amy. Were working on something which we can talk a little bit more about in a minute, but the whole experience of dealing with people in Beaumont and then kind of saying, okay, moving between the wards, And the wards have [00:23:00] gotten notes and then the files passing to another ward and then me trying to get access to the information and staying on them, cuz obviously it's still covid and it's, the system is under immense pressure.

[00:23:13] Gerry Scullion: But then luckily my mum made somewhat of a recovery and had to go to a recuperation place. Um, Another incredible place called Hospital, um, in Ireland. And the notes were in Beaumont. We were waiting for the notes to be carried across and it just felt like, you know, even my mom was kind of like, so, well, we just have to wait cuz this, this is the system, this is the we, we can't change this right now.

[00:23:37] Gerry Scullion: It's, it seems like some parts of it around data is still living in the dark ages. It's still living in the whole, kind of like the paper-based scenario of, of physically writing notes and passing it across. Yeah. How, how do you see that evolving? Like, um, they

[00:23:54] Sarah Kearns: need every, every GP practice and a lot of GP practice, for [00:24:00] example, which is a really good example, are owned by a company Centric Health.

[00:24:03] Sarah Kearns: So, um, they would. Um, not necessarily owned, but they would be in, you know, working together. So a lot of those notes are so imagine the, uh, place that I present to the emergency department, uh, with a child and my child, what information, and we can see the fa last five times that they've arrived. But we need every hospital, every institution, everyone to be up and running.

[00:24:28] Sarah Kearns: On a computer system that can all work together and now will have a national database and like they, it, it, it'll take more time, but like it, it needs to be the way it's going to go. And like when I, up until recently, if somebody had a CAT scan, just say somebody came in and they suspected or if they seen that somebody had had a brain bleed.

[00:24:52] Sarah Kearns: They needed the, the specialist, you know, um, doctors would, for example, be in Beaumont, so we would have to get, call a taxi to [00:25:00] put a CD with a scan on it into the taxi. And the taxi man would drive the scan over to Beaumont Hospital, 2, 3, 3 am during the day, whatever. Yeah. But now the, the, the systems are centralized, so there's a huge.

[00:25:13] Sarah Kearns: On part, not in all cases, but like there, there's a huge development in, in techno technology is the key to healthcare. It's what's driving it forward, but it's just a slow, expensive, arduous system. Mm-hmm.

[00:25:26] Gerry Scullion: I wanna go back just. A little bit earlier in this conversation where I was talking about what have we lost from a human perspective at the, from the nurses' level who are at the bedside, um, what have we lost and what have we gained by the introduction of technology from the human perspective, the human interaction level.

[00:25:43] Gerry Scullion: Okay. So, um, do you feel it's, it's easier to do your job with technology now to provide a more human experience, or do you feel it's. We kind of lost some elements to that. Where

[00:25:55] Sarah Kearns: do you think? I think predominantly it's been for the better and I think [00:26:00] because I think that you have more time with the patient.

[00:26:03] Sarah Kearns: If technology, if it's easier to take somebody's temperature or they have a temperature probe that's continuously monitoring, it means that you don't have to go find a temperature probe. Is their batteries in it? Do I need the cats or the top temp or whatever? Whatever, whatever. Yeah. All these systems and the easier those, those.

[00:26:20] Sarah Kearns: Things become the more time we have with the patient, I think, I think that bedside time with the patient is integral to somebody's recovery. Mm-hmm. . Um, and, and generally speaking, nurses cause of who nurses are. They want to be with the patient at the bedside. They see the importance, but here's the actual crux of it, and it's not even by technology.

[00:26:41] Sarah Kearns: Things are so busy now. It is extraordinarily. It's unbelievable. It's unbelievable. I remember standing breaking point, level, level. Oh, breaking point. I remember standing in a, an emergency department. I, it was so [00:27:00] busy. I had, I was holding a unit of blood in my left hand and I had a, a bed pan under my. In the crook of my arm, I was holding two patients notes, platelets in the other side, something banana like.

[00:27:14] Sarah Kearns: I literally couldn't, if someone asked me to hold something, I couldn't. Right. I was absolutely maxed out and somebody handed me the phone to answer a patient query, and I remember just starting to cry and I was like, guys, and there was three people waiting to ask me questions and I remember just going, What, like what am I meant to do here, but what, how am I meant to cope with this?

[00:27:38] Sarah Kearns: How this is, and how does the people know how busy they are? But you're just meant to cope. You're just meant to cope. Yeah. That hardness, the exhaustion is just to, I like the, particularly like, um, I worked in the ICU and the sickest patients are getting sicker. Yeah. We're living longer. There's more core morbid.

[00:27:59] Sarah Kearns: People [00:28:00] are, you know, there's loads of, loads of so much with the obesity, with everything. Like there's so many issues towards people getting sick, they've never been sicker, and technology is obviously a huge part of that. Yeah. But actually when you think about the nurses at the ward level in particular at Breaking point, yeah.

[00:28:19] Sarah Kearns: There would be, I remember the, these stories like. And of some words that nurses wouldn't have got a toilet break. They'd have to bring the phone with them to the toilet. Like you wouldn't be able to. So, you know, imagine trying to, to have a drink during the day and at 3:00 PM in the day, they may not have had a break for a cup of tea or something to eat.

[00:28:38] Sarah Kearns: It is relentless. I do not know how, like I'm on a career break for the first time. I didn't realize how exhausted I was until I took a career break. It's an unbelievably challenging, but it's a brilliant career and it's so interesting. . It's not, I'm not, I don't mean I don't, I never talk negative about it.

[00:28:56] Sarah Kearns: The best thing I ever did, um, to be a nurse, but it is just [00:29:00] so hard. Yeah. I think ultimately the better te. And take away those little mini, mini tasks of trying to find this and that. And like, if you think about taking, um, a blood pressure, if anyone's ever been in the hospital, the nurse has gone around and trying to find a, a plug socket to charge the blood pressure monitor

[00:29:16] Sarah Kearns: So if all that is gone and they're just above the bed in a constant plug socket, like all of those little arteri, they're the bases. They're

[00:29:23] Gerry Scullion: the basics. The basics on that, my mom was, was back in Beaumont there. Last week, the week before maybe to, to get some x-rays done. Uh, again, post covid related, and they were there for 14 hours.

[00:29:36] Gerry Scullion: Okay. My mom's 81 and, um, she didn't, she didn't bat an eyelid. My mom's incredible in that sense. She was just like, well, this is, there's other people here are sicker than me. She kept on saying, I was like, ma'am, you're 81. Incredible. I know. Yeah. But when you've been in hospital for five months, like my mom, The change perspective on On a lot of things.

[00:29:58] Gerry Scullion: Yeah. But they said that there was [00:30:00] nurses and my mom does not exaggerate folks. They're not like me, . Okay. They were sprinting. She said they were sprinting at two o'clock in the morning from room to room. She goes, it wasn't even a case of like walking briss. These guys and folks were just, Just absolutely, you know, full tilt for, for so long, and I don't know how they can continue doing this.

[00:30:23] Gerry Scullion: Like, so every little, little helps like, you know, Sarah, um, I know we're, we're, we're probably coming close to to time on, on this episode. Um, but one of the things that you, you mentioned there was the, the shift from, you know, being completely burnt out. What, what advice do you give to. People who are designing in the healthcare space at the moment, who, um, are interested in learning more about, I guess, ma making things a little bit easier for, for the people, the practitioners, um, like yourself in that space.

[00:30:56] Gerry Scullion: What are the things that you, you can really tell them [00:31:00] what, what we, where you feel that they can improve on?

[00:31:03] Sarah Kearns: I think that the compu, I know that the term user friendly. Is really out there. But if you think about in particular, like an apple, what, like what makes Apple you, you'd know more than this about this than me, but you know, that term user friendly I think is probably overused, but I really mean it in this.

[00:31:20] Sarah Kearns: If you think about nurses and doctors, The, the, it's extraordinary. So you have a nurse that may be 21 from Clint in Dublin went to what? Right, right up to 65 from maybe Central Africa who's lived in Ireland for 20 years, whatever. Yeah. The, the, and across multi, like, I, I dunno how many, I think somebody said at some, some stage in Vincent's Hospital there was like 70 nationalities.

[00:31:50] Sarah Kearns: Something really incredible. Wow. Incredible. So the languages, the age, the culture backgrounds, the everything. So when you [00:32:00] are, when you're designing, I think, um, When you're designing a, a, a product that people get to choose, right? Mm-hmm. . So if you, if you're designing two phones, okay? People are going to come and they have a choice.

[00:32:11] Sarah Kearns: When you are coming to designing healthcare products, people don't have a choice. They're giving them, yeah. They're like, this is what you have to use, right? So if you take into consideration, you might have a 21 year old whi or they might be CEL Dyslexia or whatever. Right up to somebody's older who may be still on a Nokia 2210.

[00:32:27] Sarah Kearns: So you need to make it to that extent, user friendly. It's so much about graphics, um, you know, and. Color coordination, clear, big tabs. Not o busy, not overly busy. Um, platform pages as user-friendly as po uh, uh, possible. Um, yeah, I, I think that's hugely important because of the culture diversity it is, is just enormous in

[00:32:53] Gerry Scullion: hospitals.

[00:32:54] Gerry Scullion: It needs to be a, to be able to be adaptable as well to those adapt. Yeah, multilingual. Absolutely. [00:33:00] It's

[00:33:00] Sarah Kearns: multilingual and easily the top right? You want this in Spanish, whatever, top right. A translation tool. If that would make a huge difference. Imagine there was a, you know, so some people would, a translation tool that was really easy to find on, on, on the page.

[00:33:16] Sarah Kearns: Because if you think about the amount of people, like obviously English is going. First Lang in whatever hospital, if you're in France, is gonna be French, blah, blah, blah. Mm-hmm. , but so as user friendly as possible. But imagine a space that someone is able to just use, like a Google Translate esque tool to find words easily.

[00:33:33] Sarah Kearns: Like you're gonna have far a higher caliber of note writing and things like that. I, I

[00:33:36] Gerry Scullion: saw that actually firsthand in, in Bowman Hospital. People use in Google Translate on the ward because people from other nationalities sitting in there and they weren't, they weren't able to communicate. Between the doctors and, and the patient.

[00:33:49] Gerry Scullion: So, um, but again, it was, I think it wasn't even the doctor's phone. I think it was someone else who was just in the ward, gave him the phone, said, we, we, we can do this. Is it, it was, it was a kind of a, uh, a crowd or a hustle [00:34:00] mentality of we're all here to try and help. We all want to get the same outcomes for everyone in the room.

[00:34:04] Gerry Scullion: And I think I even went over at one point and I was like, Hey, do you want me to try and use Google, Google Translate? But they, they'd already got the phone in

[00:34:11] Sarah Kearns: situation. Imagine the GDPR implications of that. Yeah. So if you, I

[00:34:15] Gerry Scullion: have. They're telling

[00:34:16] Sarah Kearns: me something patient. It's unbelievable. So if you have a patient, for example, that's really sick and they have their family members in maybe English, they, they don't speak English, you have to go, we have to go through a translation company that's obviously verified and vetted because yeah, we potentially.

[00:34:32] Sarah Kearns: Translate really, really sensitive information. Yeah. There's

[00:34:33] Gerry Scullion: the parentification elements there. If the child has got the technology and they're more savvy than their parents. Yeah. And they're, and they're, and they're privy to the, the health implications and the health data of their parent as well. And they're like, mommy, yeah.

[00:34:45] Gerry Scullion: You've got some serious stuff going on and they're translating it back. It, it's quite difficult now. Um, we, we were chatting there, we just mentioned a little bit on something that myself and yourself have come together and were working on like, and Amy as well, of course. I let you talk about it cuz [00:35:00] you're spearheading this.

[00:35:00] Gerry Scullion: I'm just sitting in the background kind of going, we can probably do this. O One of the things when I was helping my mum, uh, and my mom was kind of mum, mom, whatever we wanna call her mum Mamy the whole lot. Um, she's a typical Irish mummy. A mamy, and she said that, um, when she was coming outta hospital, uh, she sat my brother down with a water of notes and said, this is what you need to buy.

[00:35:23] Gerry Scullion: And I was the one who had to pick. Order up and there was 25 boxes of, uh, cab's Heroes. There was several dozen big boxes of McVitty's biscuits and it, I literally looked like a Santa Claus walking in through the wards, just dropping these chocolates. Mm-hmm. as a way of giving back and thanking the people who are working in there.

[00:35:47] Gerry Scullion: And that's how we've connected as well. So I'll let you take over and, and talk about where the idea of Thank you nurses came.

[00:35:54] Sarah Kearns: That's such a good idea. One thing that nurses absolutely love is an afternoon , [00:36:00] an afternoon break. So when I have my babies or whatever that I bring back, I always bring in a cake.

[00:36:05] Sarah Kearns: Yeah. To have with a cup of tea at 3:00 PM in the afternoon. Absolutely lush. Like, couldn't think izer, like a butler's coffee cake. Oh, the dream. Um, . So, um, it was, there was a horrendous night in, um, I suppose it's about six, um, months ago that there was, um, and the, the team in the emergency department, um, there was some children had died.

[00:36:31] Sarah Kearns: It was horrific night. And, um, Someone contacted Amy Huberman. And said if she's a pal, and they said like she, you know, is there anything, um, any, any chance that you would put up on your Instagram? I would absolutely love to get these girls and guys who have tickets to see Garth Brooks as sort of a way of thanking them cuz they had really had a rough time.

[00:36:53] Sarah Kearns: So, but Amy was so pleasantly surprised because she was absolutely inundated with offers, people saying, [00:37:00] Hey, I've five Gar Brook tickets. If, if anyone, if any, if you want them, you can give them away. So she basically, Someone got involved and helped her. And she, she was, people were suggesting that they had tickets for all sorts of gigs and things.

[00:37:12] Sarah Kearns: So then we said, wouldn't we love to do this, um, as a sort of a general thing. So we call it, we we're calling it Thank you nurses, and we're gonna focus on nurses because, um, We will expand as we go, but as a really good starting point, we're gonna focus on nurses and the id, the concept and the idea. Jerry got in, contacted Amy as well.

[00:37:34] Sarah Kearns: That's how I met you and said, listen, I am, I can do the it part, I can do the website and, and kind of the traffic control, whatever you need. So the three of us, so I'm gonna be, what we're gonna do is basically have an Instagram page. Website and what we're gonna do is Amy's going to boost it. So she's gonna say, Hey guys, temple Street is up this month.

[00:37:56] Sarah Kearns: I'm gonna put it on the Instagram page. Just say Temple Street Ed is up this [00:38:00] month. Tala Hospital will be maybe the two weeks later or a month. We'll try to get into a good flow. And the idea would be that you would say, Hey, I have four tickets to see. Dro came brilliant. So you go onto the website, you log your inform.

[00:38:16] Sarah Kearns: tell us what you have, what you'd like to donate. And the idea is it's put through this flow and the the person, we're gonna have a contact person in each hospital. Yeah. And worked around Ireland. I think I have a contact person in every hospital. I'm gonna link up with this and the idea is there's gonna be a contact hospital in just say South tip and they will say, brilliant.

[00:38:36] Sarah Kearns: The person, then the information will go about the four de. Okay. And take us to the person South tip. And then they're going to, uh, give them out in the hospital to wherever they want. Yeah. So connecting

[00:38:46] Gerry Scullion: rewards.

[00:38:47] Sarah Kearns: Connecting rewards, yeah. To the, it's just a simple thank you, isn't it?

[00:38:50] Gerry Scullion: Absolutely. Just to the nurses at the moment, that's what

[00:38:52] Sarah Kearns: we're just to the nurses, we will expand, we're gonna focus on the.

[00:38:56] Sarah Kearns: Um, the teaching hospitals. The main teaching hospitals, yeah. At [00:39:00] the moment. Um, just as a starting point, I think we will expand as we go because you know, the staff in Beacon Hospital Yeah. In the work so hard and it's not a slight, it's just literally, you know, it's like anything will, will just start in the teaching hospitals.

[00:39:16] Sarah Kearns: We'll get the vibe, we'll get the. and then we'll expand. I love

[00:39:19] Gerry Scullion: the fact you, you're using the lingo. I'm teaching you all these different, you know, we'll, we'll iterate, we'll iterate, we'll start small and you know, we'll do a small little sample and we'll see where it goes and we'll iterate. So yeah, it's a long term project.

[00:39:31] Sarah Kearns: It's all sorts of tickets as well. We were saying like it's, um, like just say you might have four tickets to, uh, rugby matter. Football match or you know, that you, you wouldn't like to see them go to waste and that you just, it's really simple. You come in cuz you, you have a really simple, uh,

[00:39:47] for

[00:39:47] Gerry Scullion: I'm really simple.

[00:39:48] Gerry Scullion: Is that what you're saying? How dare you? I'm not really simple .

[00:39:51] Sarah Kearns: User friendly. User friendly. You're user friendly.

[00:39:55] Gerry Scullion: Well, we, we launched it probably in the new year. Okay. So, um, and stay tuned [00:40:00]folks. I'll probably throw a link of it out into the, the newsletter for this state city as well, like, you know, but Sarah, I know it's, it's a time for, for you and I want to thank you for everything that you do and on behalf of all the, the people who listen to this podcast.

[00:40:14] Gerry Scullion: Um, thanks for being so open and honest about your experience as working as a nurse, especially during the pandemic. I said the word angel in there and it's not something I'd throw around. Quite, uh, flippantly, honestly. Like what one thing that has come outta the pandemic that I feel is the kind of the rebalancing, the recalibration of, of people in society who really need our deepest thanks.

[00:40:37] Gerry Scullion: So, um, from the bottom of my heart, I know I've had a lot of experience in, in sort of working and dealing with the healthcare in the last year in Ireland. All of you and your peers are absolutely incredible. So thank you so much for everything that you've done and continue to do for the Irish healthcare system.

[00:40:55] Gerry Scullion: So that's from the bottom where my heart,

[00:40:57] Sarah Kearns: I'll pass it on to the girls that are still working [00:41:00] really hard. I dunno how they're, they're incredible. Particularly the girls, um, in Vincent's ICU have really, they're amazing. They are amazing and like, as I was saying that I, I worked, I was booted out halfway through the second wave with the girls, kept going.

[00:41:13] Sarah Kearns: Yeah. Day in, day out in with really, really, really sick people with the hardest, um, yeah. Um, situations like, yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

[00:41:22] Gerry Scullion: Well look, I'll throw a link to your LinkedIn as well, so if anyone wants to connect with Sarah and ask questions. Sarah's on two FM as well regularly enough every Thursday with, uh, Jennifer z Perelli.

[00:41:31] Gerry Scullion: I'm saying the surname. Jennifer Z. Yeah, so, so check in, uh, on two of them if you wanna stay up to date on what Sarah's doing. Alright, Sarah, thanks so much for your time. Thanks Million. Bye.

[00:41:45] Gerry Scullion: There you go folks. I hope you enjoyed that episode and if you enjoyed it and want to listen to more, why not visit? This is hate where you can learn more about what we are up to and also explore our courses once through there. Thanks again for listening.[00:42:00]

John Carter
Tech Vlogger & YouTuber

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