Hospital heroes reflect on two years that changed everything

CAN it really be two years since the first national lockdown?

From the palpable panic in March 2020, to the stoic acceptance of a new way of life, it has been an unprecedented time of seismic change.

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency has said the province’s hospitals have bore the brunt of the loss, with 3,057 people losing their battle against COVID there.

Antrim Hospital has endured their share of deaths too - and local people undoubtedly owe a huge debt of thanks to the heroes who manned the front lines.

These were the people who sat with dying patients when their families could not. They offered comfort to heartbroken people forced to peer through windows in a car park to get a last glimpse of a loved one as they slipped away.

There has been no shortage of tears, but there have been moving moments of hope and inspiration too.

Who will forget the staff members lining the corridors to applaud the patients as they left Intensive Care?

The pandemic, mercifully, appears to be receding but the extreme pressure on medics is not.

Nevertheless, many took a break from the wards at noon on Wednesday to take part in the second National Day of Reflection. Organised by charity Marie Curie, it was a short pause to look back on the ‘collective loss and grief’.

The Northern Trust said no-one would forget the ravages of recent times.

“We all know how difficult the past two years have been and COVID-19 is still with us and continues to impact the way we deliver our services,” said a spokesperson.

“But today, it is important to remember all those who have sadly passed away, and not only as a result of COVID, and to also think of all those who have worked so hard to care for them during their illness and final days.

“Every death has been devastating for the families, friends and communities left behind and many of you will also have experienced overwhelming anxiety and grief, as a result of the very difficult circumstances that you have had to face.”

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