Robinson Hospital AGM pays tribute to work during pandemic

The 90th AGM of the Robinson Memorial Hospital Association took place on October 13 in Ballymoney Health Centre.

Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 10:48 am

28 members attended the meeting as well as two members on Zoom platform.

David Robinson MBE, President of the Robinson Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees, welcomed all who attended and read out a list of apologies. He thanked the officers and members for their support in the past year and highlighted the many challenges faced by all the staff working on the Robinson Hospital site during the past 18 months of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The Honorary Secretary, Dr John Flynn, thanked all the staff from the many departments on the Robinson Hospital site who had provided reports for the AGM. All had reported marked changes to their systems of care due to Covid restrictions; seriously ill patients/ clients were seen face to face with strict Covid precautions and less serious patient/client contacts were triaged by telephone to decide what care was required.

The Robinson Hospital General Ward had been designated by the NHSCT as the only Covid hospital step down unit in the Trust for Covid rehabilitation care and it was noted that Ms Wendy Magowan, NHSCT Director of Operations, had praised the unit for their invaluable care during the Pandemic. Along with GPs from four GP Practices, Sister Joanne Montgomery had led a Multi-Disciplinary team of staff who provided high quality personal care to their inpatients and families.

Despite the Staff experiencing fear and anxiety for the wellbeing of their own families and selves, they had displayed determination and mutual support throughout the Pandemic. Dr Fannin, lead GP, had reported that not allowing face to face relative visits during the worst of the Pandemic was one of the most difficult parts of care. Window visiting had limitations. She thanked the Robinson Hospital Trust for supplying iPads so that relatives could communicate remotely with their loved ones.

The Physiotherapy Department had provided both inpatient and outpatient care although many assessments had to be carried out by telephone or virtual platform. The Hospital Diversion Team carried out 1038 treatments including blood transfusions and intravenous therapies. Due to reduced unit capacity due to Covid, many of these treatments had to be carried out at home. The Child Development Centre noted that there were periods of time they were unable to do any face to face assessments. The Multi-Disciplinary Team including five Paediatricians had consulted with all patients by telephone or Zoom but have now returned to clinic assessments in a safe environment.

CRUSE Bereavement Care Service reported that their 50 volunteer counsellors continued to work from home and noted that during 2020 their referral contacts had rocketed due to relatives often being unable to be with their loved ones in their final illnesses and not having usual family support during very restricted funerals. The Robinson Outdoor Occupational Training Service (ROOTS), supporting up to ten adults with learning disability, had been fully operational maintaining the gardening and grass cutting on the Robinson Hospital and Roddens Home sites. They also assisted recycling of old Zimmer frames and other equipment for the NHSCT.

The Adult Mental Health Resource Centre had remained open throughout the Pandemic but noted increased crisis referrals and attendances due to job losses, relationship breakdowns, domestic violence and alcohol abuse. Podiatry Care Services triaged patients by telephone, Zoom or photographs and provided essential care as necessary. The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service had increased workload due to home schooling and Covid lockdown effects on families.

Ballymoney Health Centre continued to operate with strict Covid precautions requiring patient contacts to be triaged by telephone and arranging face to face contacts or other appropriate care as necessary. The Fannin and Family Practives had worked together with two other Practices to carry out 30,000 Covid vaccinations at the Joey Dunlop Centre. The Multi-Disciplinary Teams, including Practice Managers, Receptionists, Practice Nurses, Physiotherapists, Pharmacists, Mental Health Professionals and Social Workers, continued their general Health Centre primary care in challenging circumstances with the accompanying need to protect their patients and themselves.

Other Health Centre Staff, including Treatment Room Nurses, Health Visitors, Midwives, Community Dentistry, Speech Therapy and Dietitians, all continued their valuable care.

The Robinson Hospital Board of Trustees welcomed the decision by the NHSCT to progress a major refurbishment project for the Robinson Hospital wards involving provision of ensuite facilities and enhanced staff and patient family facilities. This project costing £2.2 million capital costs was to be made available from Robinson Memorial Hospital Trust Board managed funds.

The Robinson Trust Board again wished to pay tribute to the service of their previous Honorary Secretary, Dr John Johnston, who had passed away in August 2020. Dr Johnston had dedicated much of his life to his patients and community care and was still being missed by many who regarded him with enormous respect and deep affection.

The Trust Board Members also congratulated their President David Robinson on his award of MBE by Her Majesty. David had provided tireless leadership to the Robinson Hospital Trust Board over many years and had continued in his role as Funeral Director to provide comfort to many families, especially during the Covid Pandemic.

The Honorary Treasurer, Henry Algeo, reported that the year 2020, dominated in every respect by Covid-19, had been a difficult year for the finances and investments of the Robinson Hospital Trust. In last year’s report he had predicted a downturn in income, but perhaps less impact on capital, and so it had turned out.

The Charity’s total assets at the end of 2020 stood at £5.7 million, an increase of approximately £105,000 on the previous year. Income for 2020 was approximately £100,000, a decrease of about £20,000 on 2019. Accumulated income

available to support capital works at the Robinson Hospital stood at just under £1.8 million at the year end. The Robinson Board of Trustees was very pleased to note that the NHSCT is well on its way to implementing a project to refurbish much of the general wing of the hospital, therefore putting these funds to good use.

During the year, from its unrestricted funds, the Robinson Board assisted staff at the hospital by buying PPE, toiletries and food. iPads were also purchased by the Board to facilitate communications between inpatients and their families. In addition, a grant was provided to a member of staff to allow her to undertake part-time study for a post graduate nursing Diploma in Palliative Care. Accountants, D.T. Carson & Co, were praised for their efficient service in preparing the accounts even in the face of the difficulties presented by working during a Pandemic.

Mr Algeo summed up by declaring: “We are in a strong position to continue to provide the funds needed to help the Robinson Hospital continue to evolve.”

Further updated details of elected Officers of the Robinson Hospital Trust Board and more extensive reports about each department can be viewed in due course on our website