Locals rally to help after GP’s surgery destroyed in fire ahead of vaccine arrival
Despite a fire causing extensive damage to his Galway GP practice on Tuesday, Dr Martin Daly will this weekend begin to administer the first long-awaited Covid-19 vaccinations to his over-85 patients .
The practice has received “huge support” from the local community of Ballygar, since the blaze, with one businessman offering the use of a nearby nursing home that has been closed for a number of years, Dr Daly told the Irish Times.
Within 24 hours of Tuesday’s fire, Dr Daly and his team were carrying out appointments in a temporary location down the road.
“People have been ringing with messages of support but also offering practical support. We are touched and grateful for it,” he said.
“An awful lot was done in 24 hours. People have been helping us to recover what we can … In fairness we got a lot of help from the Health Service Executive (HSE), so we are very grateful for that,” he added.
The urgency was necessary not only for carrying out regular appointments but because the surgery was expecting its first batch of coronavirus vaccines on Thursday. The donation of a medical fridge has been a “lifesaver” that will enable the doctors to go ahead with administering the vaccine to over-85 patients this Saturday.
“We have been waiting for this for so long it would have been a tragedy not to be able to do it,” he said.
With more than 100 patients over the age of 85 on their books, Dr Daly said he is “very pleased to say we can go ahead with this as planned”.
On Tuesday morning smoke was seen rising from the building, and Dr Daly was alerted by a patient who was waiting outside for an appointment.
The front of the premises, where the reception and waiting areas are situated, has been “completely destroyed”. There is extensive smoke damage to the rear of the building, where consultations take place, but it appears to be structurally sound, Dr Daly said. Nobody was injured in the incident and there is currently no suggestion the fire was started maliciously, he added.
The ordeal has been “very upsetting” for the healthcare team after what has been a “difficult year”, Dr Daly went on. But the general practitioner did not dwell on his own misfortune, quickly listing reasons he and his staff feel fortunate: “We are relatively lucky that we have got jobs to go to and structure in our day. I am acutely aware of other people, especially our own older patients, who are suffering from isolation.”
“You recognise it has been a difficult year for everyone … In the greater scheme of things, ours is not so bad.”
Paul Connolly, who has written a local history book on Ballygar, said it was no surprise to anyone in the area that the healthcare centre was back up and running after just one day.
Martin Daly’s parents, Joseph and Madeleine, set up the family practice in the small rural town of Ballygar, in east Galway, in 1967. Dr Daly is “kind of a leader” in the community, and the help he has received since the fire is a “reflection of how respected he is”, Mr Connolly said.
“I have never seen anything like the level of trust people have in the health team there, Dr Daly and his father and mother before him … And there is no doubt about it, he (Martin Daly) is someone who cares,” Mr Connolly added.