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Blackrock Clinic CEO Blog Care, Conversation & Wellbeing

Care, Conversation & Wellbeing

24th Jun 2022

‘Getting back to the humanistic factors of life … The staff are the real heroes’

People are the mainstay of our hospital, whether medics, clinicians, back-room staff, or the many supporting patient facing roles. At Blackrock Clinic our people often surprise us, going above and beyond in their caring, compassion, dedication, but also in their diversity and talents.

The past two years have been a time when illness and hospital visits felt more austere than usual as social distancing sanctions dominated our whole way of life. Alienation became a key anxiety for many of us, patients and staff.

Employment Sectors

As some employment sectors closed for short or long term, the working population of Ireland shape shifted, particularly in areas such as the performing arts where venue closure meant the devastation of hard won income potential. The plight of artists has rightly been highlighted, as Ireland is a nation renowned for its arts. Other sectors such as healthcare encountered a mammoth problem of a different kind, where Covid absences depleted staff, doors were closed for entry to all but essential bodies, and patient numbers swelled to unprecedented levels.

Hugh O’Byrne

In order to keep services open, hospital recruitment teams worked hard and with broad strokes. Through the incongruity of the time, Blackrock Clinic’s community has emerged with some surprising benefits, where hospital principles have blended with new personalities to the benefit of all. 

2022 is a Big Year

2022 is a big year for Ireland as pandemic restrictions begin to lift and the population is getting into the ‘swing’ again. It is a good time to shine a light on some of the characters who have softened the edges of the hard lock-downs.

Hugh O’Byrne is a young Dublin musician, whose blossoming career as the Hip-Hop performer ‘Malaki’ was frozen by the pandemic. As a full-time artist, he found himself financially stranded and looking around for an alternative income source. Having nurtured early aspirations of becoming a special needs assistant, being exposed to the vagaries and vulnerabilities of the human condition by his mum, a career nurse, he looked to the health service, and specifically to Blackrock Clinic. Hugh is now an established member of our ‘Concierge’ team, meeting and greeting patients at the entrance doors. As the first contact the patient might have during their visit, he sums up his role in the words ‘care, conversation & wellbeing’.

The Staff are the Real Heroes

Speaking to Hugh, it is easy to see why he makes the transition between creativity and patient care so seamlessly. Within a week of joining our team he was ‘hooked’, doing what he loves on a daily basis, which is ‘looking after others and speaking to the public – getting back to the humanistic factors of life’. He is an authentic young person with an eagerness to learn, and a natural empathy. If he has an artist’s keenness to reveal the truth, he promises to ‘try not to draw directly [from] patient’s or staff’s lives’. However he does allow himself ‘to be inspired by the kindness or pain which we see on a daily basis.’ He explains that ‘there isn’t a day goes by whilst working at Blackrock Clinic I [am not] moved by a member of staff or a patient. The staff are the real heroes and the patients make the time here worthwhile’.  


The Late Late Show

Hugh has already caught national media attention on two occasions, both as a representative of the plight of Irish artists due to the pandemic, and also for his openness about his experiences of mental health as a young man in Ireland. He memorably appeared on The Late Late Show in 2019, and guested on the RTE Radio 1 Ryan Tubridy Show earlier this month. His candour and empathy lend his story value and hope, and there is learning for us all in his words.  

Festival Schedule

The festival season is opening up again this year, and Hugh finds that his career as ‘Malaki’ is off ice, with a busy schedule ahead. ‘At the moment I have eight festivals to play this summer.’

We wish him every success with his music, and at the same time are delighted that he has decided to still ‘make time for his shifts at Blackrock Clinic’.