Moravian Messenger August 2020
P. 1

Greetings from the settlement of Gracehill, Northern Ireland. It has been said that we are living through an unprecedented period. That it is of historic proportions is undoubted. The village church here in Gracehill has never before closed its doors maintaining services despite periods of war, famine and rebellion and yet for the last few months the doors have remained shut. No aspect of our personal or civic life has been unaffected and I think it is clear that many of the results of this period remain to be seen. We have all had to react to events, look at new ways of living and working and plan for the 'new normal'.
I am a general practitioner (GP) and also the clinical director of an out of hours medical care provider. In early January this year while clearing a store at my practice I came across a box marked 'PPE'. Opening it up I discovered some personal protective equipment; masks, gowns, visors and the like that had been in storage since the H1N1 swine flu pandemic 10 years ago.
Thinking it would entertain my colleagues I donned the whole kit and joined them for their tea break. Little did I think that a very few weeks later no one would be laughing and PPE would become an essential part of our everyday lives.
The first case of the coronavirus known as Covid-19 was recorded in the UK in late January with the first case in Northern Ireland being confirmed just over four weeks later. In preparation for what was clearly a significant and developing health emergency there was a rare sense of unity and a real focus to ensure that we were as ready as we could be to cope. The media were full of shocking stories and images from China, then Italy and next London! There was a palpable sense of anxiety and foreboding and yet it was an uplifting and exhilarating time as the normal bureaucracy was set aside and everyone worked together in the race to prepare. Our National Health Service was completely transformed. Hospitals main focus became emergency departments, respiratory wards and intensive care units. In the community, general practice was reconfigured to try to maintain essential services but also manage Covid patients while protecting staff and other patients. Attendance at the practice moved to a system of 'by invitation only' following telephone triage of patients by clinical staff. Any patient who needed to be seen in person but who had symptoms suggestive of Covid infection was referred to one of the specially established 'community covid centres' where GPs and staff with appropriate training and equipment could assess them.
GPs across Northern Ireland were issued with hospital type 'scrubs' to wear which looked and felt a bit like maroon pyjamas. This and PPE quickly became the norm.
continued on p.100
and heroes
Food Bank during Covid-19
(page 102)
Face mask instructions
(page 103)
Settling in
Continuation of Br Hopcroft's memories
(pages 104)
‘Zoom’ at University Road Belfast Congregation News
(page 106)
© Sr Sally Ann Johnston

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