My Weekend: Going the extra mile to honour Covid-19 heroes

DR PATRICK SEIGNE is the chief organiser of the ICU 4 U Charity Cycle, which takes place this weekend. He is also involved in organising The National Covid Research & Scientific Meeting tomorrow, Saturday September 5
My Weekend: Going the extra mile to honour Covid-19 heroes

Drew Flood, Aware, Martha Hanlon, ICU Steps, Orla Dolan, Breakthrough Cancer Research, Dr. Patrick Seigne (on the bicycle), Cork University Hospital, Halina McNabb, Alone and Serena O’Brien, Mater ICU pictured at the launch of the ICU 4 U Charity Cycle. Picture: Maxwells

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I was born in Boston where I spent the first few years of my life before moving home to Cork, aged four. I grew up in Crosshaven in a beautiful home in Templebready where I had a very happy childhood. I come from a family of five but am now the only one left in Ireland, two are in England and two in America.

My father is from Blarney and was brought up in the old Hydro, which is sadly no longer. He was an incredible man, led an extraordinary, adventurous life and even wrote a book about it! He too was a doctor in both St Finbarr’s and The Victoria but spent much of his working life in America and sadly died young at the age of 63.

My mother is English, and after the death of my father moved to Ballydehob in West Cork which she loves.

I was at school initially locally in Carrigaline before being sent to England and then secondary school in Dublin. I then went to Medical school in Trinity College, Dublin, which I loved, had a great time enjoying college life and was almost certainly not remembered as the most diligent medical student that passed through the gates of the University! Thankfully, they let me graduate in 1989.

I spent the first few years of my training in Anaesthesiology/ Intensive Care Medicine in some of the Dublin hospitals but as the prospects of jobs in Ireland was so poor at the time I decided to emigrate to America. I was very lucky to get a training position in The Brigham and Women’s Hospital in The Harvard Medical School in Boston where I spent the next few years. I managed to do some of my Senior Reg training back at home in Ireland before being very lucky to get my dream job, a Consultant post in Cork University Hospital in 2001.

Dr. Patrick Seigne.
Dr. Patrick Seigne.

In CUH, I work as both an Intensivist and Anaesthesiologist. Over the years I have held a number of managerial posts in the hospital and was also honoured to be President of the Intensive Care Society of Ireland from 2010-13.

More recently during the Covid-19 crisis, I took up cycling in an effort to get fit again and hence came about the idea for the ICU 4 U Charity cycle. As the pandemic took hold I, and as it turned out so did many of my colleagues, felt a little uncomfortable being called a frontline worker and a hero. Although incredibly grateful to the public for their extraordinary generosity to us, I wanted to turn the focus on those that I thought suffered the most during this crisis-the patients themselves, their families and friends, plus the elderly, those suffering terrible anxiety and mental health issues plus those whose cancer care or diagnosis had been delayed.

The ICU 4 U charity cycle will involve small groups of ICU nurses and doctors cycling from the four corners of Ireland to raise money for four Charities — Alone, Aware, Breakthrough Cancer Research, and ICUsteps — that help patients particularly effected by Covid-19.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

In my youth, it was definitely going out on the “tiles” but as I grow older a dinner, cooked by my wife (who is a fabulous cook), at home with family or friends is hard to beat.

This week I will be in Dublin recovering from our two-day ICU 4 U Cycle, getting ready to join the National Covid Research and Scientific Meeting the following day. There is a public session open to the public. If people are interested in hearing more about the Covid-19 crisis and critical care, or if they have any questions, they can join this online session. However as places are limited, you need to register on http://bit.ly/nationalcovidconf

Dr. Patrick Seigne is the chief organiser of the ICU 4 U Charity Cycle, which takes place this weekend.
Dr. Patrick Seigne is the chief organiser of the ICU 4 U Charity Cycle, which takes place this weekend.

Lie-ins or up with the lark.. which is it for you?

As a youth, I would not have been known as an early riser! I always studied late at night in college, however, in more recent years, I usually wake at dawn naturally.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

For the last three years I was a Clinical Director in the hospital and even if I was not physically working in the hospital, I was fielding phone calls and dealing with problems throughout the weekend. Since stepping back from this post, my weekends are much freer except obviously if I am on call.

And we also have the odd conference at the weekends like the upcoming National Covid Research and Scientific Meeting.

If money was no object where would you head to on a weekend city break? And who would you bring with you?

A friend of my Dad’s once said: ‘Money can’t buy your happiness but it can buy you such a damn good impression that I sometimes find it hard to tell the difference!’ So, although I am very happy pottering around Bandon and Cork at the weekend, my wife and I love Paris. If money was genuinely no object, I have always wanted to take my family to Africa, which I love. So, I would like to take them on a long walking Safari in Tanzania with a Masai warrior as a guide! I realise this might need to be a fairly extended weekend!

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

I love Ballydehob where my mother lives, either having a pint in Levis’s or next door with Ina Daly or up the hill with Barry O’Brien. However, I am probably at my most relaxed just traipsing around the fields and bogs of my mother’s place.

Orla Dolan, Breakthrough Cancer Research, Martha Hanlon ICU Steps, Dr. Patrick Seigne, Cork University Hospital, Drew Flood, Aware, Halina McNabb, Alone and Serena O’Brien, Mater ICU pictured at the launch of the ICU 4 U Charity Cycle. Picture: Maxwells
Orla Dolan, Breakthrough Cancer Research, Martha Hanlon ICU Steps, Dr. Patrick Seigne, Cork University Hospital, Drew Flood, Aware, Halina McNabb, Alone and Serena O’Brien, Mater ICU pictured at the launch of the ICU 4 U Charity Cycle. Picture: Maxwells

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

Yes, I love spending time with family and friends at weekends although I am also quite happy in my own company and enjoy being alone at times.

Do you get to indulge any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

Yes, coming from a rural background, I have enjoyed country sports all my life particularly fishing. I have played a lot of sport over the years (rugby, soccer, squash and tennis) but not to any serious level. I am a very keen Munster and Liverpool fan and would follow both religiously. My wife would say I would probably watch tiddlywinks on TV if it was on, such is my love of sport! And of course, I’ve also been cycling every hour I have free in preparation for the ICU 4 U Charity Cycle.

Entertain or be entertained? If it’s the latter do you have a signature dish?

My wife and I like to entertain. I can cook but she is so good (she was a Cordon Bleu cook in a previous life!) that it is really pointless me doing it so I serve the drinks, do the washing up and try to make use of myself that way!

We have so many places to eat out in Cork — where are your go for coffee/ lunch/ special meal?

For a special dinner, The Chestnut in Ballydehob. Rob is an artist in the kitchen. With my family, we love going to Poacher’s in Bandon. I have yet to taste a better Seafood chowder anywhere in the world!

For coffee in Bandon, I enjoy URRU or Jacinta’s and in Cork, Nash 19 or The Idaho Café. However the best coffee in the world in my estimation is Tomaca, an Ethiopian blend (hard to get in Ireland).

Sunday night comes around too fast.. how do you normally spend it?

Relaxing at home with family, reading the Saturday supplements and preparing for the week ahead!

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

6am but I am usually up before this!

MORE ABOUT THE ICU4U FUNDRAISER

ICU doctors, nurses and staff from the island of Ireland are cycling in small groups to Dublin in aid of charities supporting those most affected by the Covid-19 crisis – ALONE (older people), Aware (mental health), Breakthrough Cancer Research (cancer patients) and ICU steps (ICU patients). For more or to donate see www.icu4u.ie

MORE ABOUT THE COVID-19 WEBINAR

Dr Seigne is also involved in organising a webinar tomorrow (Saturday, September 5), the National Covid Research & Scientific Meeting, on the management of critically ill patients with Covid-19 in the ICU. The final session at 12.15, which is open to the public, will discuss what happened, the learnings, the best treatments options and ethical issues surrounding the management of this new and challenging disease, and there will be an opportunity for a Q&A. As there are limited places registration is essential on http://bit.ly/nationalcovidconf

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