Thursday 18 January 2018

Week 6: Helping to build a gym that restores independent living

Brenda McCormick talks to a mum of two who is full of praise for Cappagh's homely approach to care and recovery

Debbie Lucey
Debbie Lucey

Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital is Ireland's major centre for elective orthopaedic surgery.

Founded in 1908 and once renowned for its treatment of children with TB from the 1920s, it is now the country's largest dedicated orthopaedic hospital providing major joint replacement, spinal surgery, primary bone tumour service, paediatric orthopaedics and more.

In 2011, mother-of-two Debbie Lucey discovered she had a tumour in her upper left arm. She was referred to Mr Gary O'Toole, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Cappagh, and had surgery to replace the affected bone with a titanium prosthetic bone.

She underwent chemo in 2012 and now back to full health, still attends Cappagh for check ups a few times a year. She speaks highly of her experience.

"When you go in to Cappagh, you're treated as an individual. They know your history, your background. They'll know your family members and will greet them by name as well. It's that kind of a place, there's a homely atmosphere to it, it's the way hospitals used to be.

"I have to mention Margaret Cavanagh, Clinical Nurse Specialist Bone Tumour Liaison. Anybody who's been to Cappagh knows Margaret. She's the head nurse and works closely with the surgeons.

"She is like a guardian angel, she takes every patient under her wing and minds them. When I say they are on the end of a phone, I am not joking. I could call any time and she would answer. I remember one time ringing her at six in the morning and she answered and took my call. I think that's a very unusual situation.

"Somehow Cappagh has kept that feeling that is gone in other hospitals. It's really calm and tranquil and you're really treated well.


"You are not a number, you're treated as a person with feelings, and a family, and children. The work that they do, giving people back their limbs! I can't speak highly enough about it, I think it's an incredible place."

Cappagh Hospital Foundation is the funding arm of the hospital and is solely dependent on the public.

Any funds raised are channeled into improving the facilities for patients, giving training to healthcare professionals, and research into the practice of orthopaedics.

In 2015 funds raised will go directly towards the rehabilitation gym at the Active Rehabilitation Unit (ARU) which aims to help patients return to an active, confident life following a trauma or an acute medical episode.

The foundation needs to raise €200,000 this year to ensure the gym is completed.

For more info on Cappagh go to www.cappagh.ie

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