Patients honour ‘heroic’ staff at Beaumont hospital

Girl who recovered from brain tumour makes brownies for her surgeon


One Thursday morning last year RTÉ Radio 1 presenter Ronan Collins was feeling fine. By the afternoon, he didn’t feel great. That same evening, he fell, thinking it was just clumsiness. The next morning, he couldn’t move his right leg. About a half hour later he couldn’t move his left leg. His brother brought him to a GP, who sent him to Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, Dublin. He was then transferred to Beaumont Hospital.

Doctors at Beaumont would discover on the Saturday evening that Collins had a cyst attached to his spinal cord. He underwent emergency surgery at 5am on the Sunday, and spent 18 days in total as an in-patient at Beaumont.

Collins’s account was one of the those shared at the annual Beaumont Hospital Foundation’s “Honour Your Heroes Day” on Wednesday, where he was honouring clinical nurse manager Mary Heffernan. Each year for the event, former patients return to the hospital to thank staff who have gone above and beyond to aid their recovery.

“I was on the stroke ward, although I didn’t have a stroke. I learned a lot about the workings of the hospital system, and this had nothing to do with private or public. This was about being on a ward where people needed attention, and they got it. Whether they had insurance or not. They were in there, and they were being looked after by the most remarkable people,” the broadcaster recalls.

Vivid memories

For many of the former patients, memories of those who provided and continue to provide treatment were equally vivid.

Sheila Hanevy, a patient of the renal unit in Beaumont since it first opened in 1987, honoured senior staff nurse Kavitha Toura and consultant nephrologist Colm Magee for the care they have continued to administer to her over the years.

Katie Kennedy from Kildare honouring consultant neurosurgeon Mr John Caird with his award and some brownies. Photograph: Robbie Reynolds
Katie Kennedy from Kildare honouring consultant neurosurgeon Mr John Caird with his award and some brownies. Photograph: Robbie Reynolds

Hanevy, who has had a lifelong relationship with dialysis, remembers meeting Toura 15 years ago, when the latter’s children were still living in India. “Now they’re here, and their oldest daughter is in college. Her second girl is in school. They were only little when they came here first,” she said.

Katie Kennedy, first diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of 1½, honoured her neurosurgeon John Caird. They’ve established their own tradition throughout years of treatment, one built upon Katie’s own love of baking and Mr Caird’s busy surgical schedule. Katie and her mother, Paula, heard Mr Caird was often quite hungry during his hours at the hospital, as he typically goes from one surgery to another. The next time Katie saw him, she brought him a plate of brownies.

“He liked them so much that every time he came in, he would ask Katie, ‘Where are the brownies?’ ” says Paula. “And it makes things very light and he makes everyone at ease.”

Among the seven patients honouring staff at Beaumont, there was a common thread of gratitude, not just for those who were nominated but for the hospital as a whole.

“There’s a lot more success stories that go out this front door than people think,” Collins remarked as he hosted the ceremony.