Margaret O’Driscoll received her Civic Award for her caring of babies and families over her 41-year career as a neonatal nurse.
Ms O’Driscoll began her career at the neonatal unit at the Erinville Hospital in 1980 before moving to Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) where she has been based since helping newborns and their parents.
She said that she spent a total of 41 years, two weeks and two days in the neonatal unit and she “wouldn’t even describe it as work” as she loved her job so much.
She was due to retire in January but continued to work until May as things were “very tough” after Christmas due to the spread of Covid-19.
“We were very short-staffed and it was really difficult for the parents too because in the beginning the parents weren’t allowed in to visit the babies.
Between University College Cork (UCC) and ourselves we got the emails for the parents and started taking photographs of their babies and mailed on the photos every day and you’d be watching for when they’d be smiling or drinking their bottle so they could see that.
She said that she is still in contact with many of the families she has helped over the years, including a young girl who was only around 500 grams when she was born at just over 23 weeks and a set of twins who now reside in the Gold Coast in Australia.
“The smallest little person I cared for was 500 grams and she’s running around now telling her father and mother what to do now and she was only born at 23 weeks and two days and to see her now, it makes the bad days so worthwhile when you see them doing so well and the parents would bring them back to see us or you’d get a letter in the post with a beautiful picture of them two or three years, even 10 years down the line,” she said.
With her certificate in her hand and looking at her silver medallion, she said that she was “absolutely humbled” to have received her award.
This award I’m accepting on behalf of every staff member inside in the CUMH because they are amazing, amazing. You couldn’t do it without the staff.
“It can be a very sad place to work at times but it’s also a very happy place to work and I don’t think there’s anyone there that doesn’t love what they do.
“I loved it and to me, it wasn’t working and didn’t feel like I was doing anything over and above. My brother in Boston is very proud of me,” she said.