Doctor posts photo of bruised face from PPE in response to anti-mask campaign

Former Rose of Tralee Elysha Brennan says it is not a big ask for the public to wear masks

Elysha Brennan: ‘We are still going into work every day putting on a mask to protect ourselves because that is evidence-based medicine.’Photograph: Elysha Brennan

Elysha Brennan: ‘We are still going into work every day putting on a mask to protect ourselves because that is evidence-based medicine.’Photograph: Elysha Brennan

 

An emergency doctor has posted a photograph of the bruises caused by having to wear personal protection equipment (PPE) for 12 hours at a time.

Dr Elysha Brennan posted the photograph on her Instagram page in response to the anti-mask campaigners at the weekend.

She captioned it: “It’s day 8/12 and my face is battered from PPE. I have turned off my news alerts because I cannot see one more story about people marching in their thousands to protest against wearing face masks.”

All frontline healthcare workers have to wear air-tight goggles in hospital settings with N95 masks, full-length gowns and gloves.

Dr Brennan, who was the Rose of Tralee in 2015, said she took the photograph on Monday during the middle of her 12 hour shift after reading about the anti-mask protesters at the weekend and seeing footage of a DJ who claimed it was his constitutional right not to have to wear a mask.

Dr Brennan works in a busy accident and emergency department in the west of Ireland. She asked that the hospital not be named.

As part of her training, doctors like her do 12 days in a row of 12 hour shifts. In her case it is with children as she wants to become a paediatrician.

Many children are coming into hospitals at present with viruses and are regarded as “query Covid- 19” so they are tested for the disease. They are put into a “red stream” where the doctors and nurses treating them like Dr Brennan have to wear full PPE.

“The majority will probably come back with a negative swab, but how are we to know when we are in a busy A&E department when you have very unwell children with temperatures?” she said.

The goggles are necessary because Covid-19 can be transmitted through the eyes. After several hours the seal made by them starts to hurt and doctors get bruising to the foreheads, eyes and nose.

“I was so fed up. Healthcare workers are not invincible. Some of us have underlying conditions, but we are still going into work every day putting on a mask to protect ourselves because that is evidence-based medicine,” she said.

“We do it for 12 hour shifts, 12 days in a row. All we are asking is that people put on a cloth mask and try and physically distance from each other.

“I feel quite strongly, we don’t need the public to be calling us healthcare heroes. We don’t need claps. We just need people to listen to the experts and NPHET (National Public Health Emergency Team) and the CMO (chief medical officer) and appreciate there is concrete evidence-based medicine behind wearing masks, physically distancing and staying at home when you are unwell.”

Dr Brennan has an underlying condition arising out of treatment she is receiving for Hodgkin’s lymphoma which she contracted in 2012. She is continuing to take the autoimmune suppressant drug Vedolizumab.

She says there is a “huge sense of anxiety amongst us all in the healthcare settings coming into the winter” which is the busiest times for public hospitals.

“Anybody knows that winter is a very challenging time for looking after patients. Children get very sick and now we have this added pressure with Covid. Our resources are quite depleted. Everybody is a little bit exhausted from that first wave that peaked in April and we are facing into a tough winter ahead.”