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'It's our job to raise the spirits of Covid patients' - Grainne

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Grainne in her nurse’s uniform

Grainne in her nurse’s uniform

Grainne in her nurse’s uniform

Dancing With The Stars finalist Grainne Gallanagh, who recently returned to work as a nurse, has said she and her colleagues are doing their best to lift the spirits of patients who cannot receive visitors.

The former Miss Universe Ireland contestant (25) went back to hospital after responding to the nationwide appeal for frontline workers issued by Health Minister Simon Harris in March.

Nervous

She began working at Letterkenny Hospital two weeks ago. The 'Call for Ireland' campaign saw more than 60,000 people volunteer to do their part during the lockdown.

The Buncrana native graduated as a nurse in 2016 and had been working at a healthcare facility in London before appearing on Dancing With The Stars, but hadn't worked in a hospital for eight months.

She said she was "really nervous" starting back but is slowly finding her feet.

"I was nervous for loads of reasons, the obvious one being the global pandemic. But also I hadn't nursed in Ireland since I qualified," Grainne told the Herald.

"But it's a matter of getting back in the swing of things. I am glad to be back and being able to help out.

"The saddest thing about the hospitals right now is that the patients can't have any visitors. It's such a hard time for someone when you're not well and then to not even be allowed to see your family makes it worse.

"That's why we have to try and lift their spirits as much as we can."

Grainne said her nursing career had taken a back seat after she won the pageant, which meant lots of travelling and new opportunities, including a stint on Dancing With The Stars.

Waste

Paired with Kai Widdrington, she made it to the final last March.

However, she previously said having healthcare skills would be a "waste" if they went unused during a pandemic.

"When you have the certain skills, with anyone in nursing, medicine, healthcare, it would be a waste not to use them in a time of need and crisis. It's scary for yourself but it's even scarier for someone coming into hospital," she said.