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Blackrock Clinic CEO Blog 2020-21 Challenges & Focus, part 1

2020-21 Challenges & Focus, part 1

19th Feb 2021

In 2019 Blackrock Clinic developed a three year strategy. We held extensive staff and stakeholder workshops where senior leaders listened, questioned, and listened some more. We reviewed patient flow paths, organisation structure, bed modelling, people, and governance: no stone was left unturned. We finessed our road map, and 2021 was our target date to emerge as a more highly developed version of ourselves.

Then came 2020, Covid-19, and events which the most prescient of hospital managers could not have foreseen. Pandemic hit the country and as a hospital we had a duty to respond.

So in spring 2020 we convened again. Having accepted the Government’s call to enlist under the public system for three months, we were challenged with a fast changing set of circumstances. Not only did we have to keep patients safe and accommodate new surgical and medical teams, we also had a duty of care to a community of more than 1,000 – our own staff.

Referring back to the honest and open approach used in our strategy planning, we saw that our strategic initiatives would prove our strongest vehicles to deploy for this “extraordinary disruption”. We accelerated them, and 2020 saw Blackrock Clinic “disrupt” ourselves at a speed we have never experienced before.

In 2020 we:


Enabled staff to work from home where possible; equipped ourselves with the digital infrastructure and software to perform any of a hundred roles.


Deployed Microsoft Teams so that all meetings could be held remotely.

Employed video streaming of events. This included the poignant annual Remembrance Service, where we commemorated everybody lost to us over the past year, including our own Fr Gerry Byrne and Dr Jorge Martinell.

Introduced Webinar technology to enable interactive educational meetings (GP and Grand Rounds) to be held online.


Developed “employee well-being tool kits” through our Prosper Group and Employee Assistance Programme.

Increased the number of hospital employees significantly and ended the requirement for agency staff.

Outpatient Services

We adapted working models following national and international best practice guidelines. All services became “by appointment” allowing strict Covid-19 protocols to be maintained. Waiting room seating was “spaced” and appointment times staggered. This included the Emergency Department, which we are proud to say remained open throughout the year as a 7 day service.

Access and Amenities

We needed to close our restaurant to the public and restrict access to the building. This enabled us to make the hospital a safe environment for health workers and patients. Security staff manned the entrances during the first few months, but were superseded by the softer face of our Concierge Team. This team has become a valued asset to the hospital, as proven by the many mentions in the “Comment Cards” from patients and their families. Special thanks to our helpful team of concierge “brand ambassadors”.

Infection Control

Blackrock Clinic has a consciousness towards infection prevention & control built into our infrastructure. We are fortunate that our hospital was designed by doctors with such measures in mind:

Our Infection Control Nurse team remains pivotal in everything we do today, a fact which stands to us greatly at this time. The team advises us on diverse measures:

  • Current one way pedestrian flow systems;
  • The number and positioning of hand sanitation stations;
  • The highest regimens of cleanliness in communal areas.

Not least of our achievements in 2020 was the attention to detail of the basic tenets of infection control practice: hand hygiene, the correct wearing of PPE, and social distancing.  

These are just a few of the ways in which our teams enabled the hospital to achieve successes above expectation in 2020.

Part 1 of 2

Read part 2