Celebrating the warmth and care given by hospital heroes

By Mary Dennehy

IT’S NOT only the tea that’s warm in the Volunteer Coffee Shop at Tallaght University Hospital, after patients and their families recognised the warm and caring service provided by volunteers in the recent Hospital Hero Awards.

Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) marked its 21st birthday on June 21 by staging its second annual Hero Awards, which recognises and applauds the individuals and teams that make a special difference to patients and their families.


A total of nine awards were handed out on the day, with patients and their families invited to make nominations for the Patient Experience Award.

Members of the public were asked to consider a person or service that demonstrates the hospital’s ethos of People Caring for People – providing an exceptional patient experience.

This year, the award was won by the Volunteer Coffee Shop, after a large number of nominations were received in support of the volunteer service.

Among the nominations, people commented on how volunteers give the “gift of time” to patients and their families, adding how team members are “courteous and polite, providing service with a smile” and have a “friendly and caring welcome”.

TUH 2019 Hero Group Picture 1 1

(back row, from left) Mel Gallagher (Senior Radiologist), Gerry Claffey (Therapy Assistant), Professor William Torreggiani (Consultant Radiologist) and Louise Byrne (Aseptic Pharmacy Team Manager); (front) Marie Barnes (Hospital Volunteer, representing Volunteer Coffee Shop), Jessie Burke (Decontamination Lead), Sandra Daly (Administrator), Cora Healy (Medical Records), Angela Smith (Health Care Assistant, Charlie O’Toole Day Hospital), Sharon Larkin (Director of HR) and Lucy Nugent (CEO of TUH)

One person also commented how the coffee-shop volunteers, “light up my day when I’m down”.

Speaking at the event, TUH Chief Executive Lucy Nugent said: “Today we are celebrating the 21st anniversary of the opening of Tallaght University hospital, but we are also celebrating all of our dedicated and hard-working staff through these awards.

TUH 2019 Hero Group Coffee Shop Volunteers 1

Smiles all round

“We are one of Ireland’s largest acute teaching hospitals, but we are also deeply rooted in the community we serve and it is fantastic to see the community contribute to our Hero Awards through the Patient Experience Award.”

Staff within the hospital are also encouraged to make nominations, with all categories judged by a cross-disciplinary panel of ten senior staff members.

A new category introduced for 2019 was Team of the Year, which, recognising excellence in teamwork, was awarded to the Aseptic Pharmacy Team.

TUH 2019 Hero Awards Coffee Shop Volunteers 1

Cheers to the community for the nominations! Coffee Shop Volunteers, Cecilia Ennis, Joan O’Brien, Bertilla Kavanagh, Rena McCarthy and Volunteer Services Manager at TUH Carol Roe

This team is made up of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and cleaners, who work together under difficult conditions in rooms with no natural daylight preparing cancer drugs for patients.

According to the hospital: “This team prepare medication for some of our most vulnerable patients taking great care and vigilance in their work, preparing up to 1,000 doses of chemotherapy each month.”

Also commenting on the awards, Sharon Larkin, Director of HR at TUH, said: “We know that every one of the 3,000 plus staff who work here at TUH make an incredible contribution every day, and I’m delighted that we can formally acknowledge them all and highlight some of those who go above and beyond in delivering for our patients.”

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