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Irish League duo Chris Scannell and Eddie Patterson discuss fighting coronavirus pandemic on the front line

 

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Former Cliftonville and Glentoran boss Eddie Patterson and Reds legend Chris Scannell have been speaking about their experiences on the coronavirus front line.

Former Cliftonville and Glentoran boss Eddie Patterson and Reds legend Chris Scannell have been speaking about their experiences on the coronavirus front line.

Scannell with wife Ciara and children Erin, Odhran, Aidan and Meabh.

Scannell with wife Ciara and children Erin, Odhran, Aidan and Meabh.

Former Cliftonville and Glentoran boss Eddie Patterson and Reds legend Chris Scannell have been speaking about their experiences on the coronavirus front line.

Irish League football fans will know one as the stylish striker of Solitude, the other as the man who steered Glentoran to two Irish Cup successes against all the odds.

But away from football, Chris Scannell is a qualified dentist with his own practice in north Belfast, and Eddie Patterson works in the Belfast Trust Radiology Department at the Mater Hospital.

Both are frontline workers toiling at the coal face with all the anxieties, problems and challenges that brings in the current pandemic, and they have a unique perspective on how  this crisis is really biting.

The pair have opened up to the Sunday Life Sport's Stephen Looney to give an insight into what life is really like on the front line...

Eddie Patterson at covid coalface in radiology department

Former Glentoran and Cliftonville boss Eddie Patterson has hailed the public's support for the NHS as a "massive lift" through the current coronavirus pandemic.

Patterson works in the Radiology Department of Belfast's Mater Hospital, so he sees what is going on every day on the front line.

He reveals the giveaway signs that show who are the nation's heroes and says the public applause every Thursday at 8pm is a real shot in the arm for beleaguered medical staff.

"You can tell who is really on the front line by the marks on their faces", said Patterson. "You go for a coffee and see the little indentation marks where staff have been wearing masks for hours on end.

"It's hard work for the nurses, wearing PPE day after day, and those indents are a giveaway. When you see those, you know that person has been in the trenches fighting this virus.

"As a union representative speaking to nurses and other staff, I can tell you that the public show of support and solidarity on a Thursday night is massive, and it gives frontline workers such a lift. It's funny. Back in December and January, nurses were standing out on picket lines in freezing, wet conditions fighting for a pay rise, but now you see how frontline workers are being appreciated.

"Yes, they got a pay rise but the public coming out every Thursday is massive because it is coming from the people themselves who come out and clap to show their appreciation.

"That's a pat on the back from the people you are trying to serve, and that means a lot. It gives you the drive to continue doing what you are doing.

"Our work is our work. It has to be done, so you just have to get on with it. Our management has been excellent in terms of PPE and the guidelines we have received. I believe you just have to follow the guidelines, be sensible and be safe.

"We follow all the guidelines here in work, and social distancing and handwashing are obviously very important. I have to use hand sanitiser any time I leave or enter a room - I've had more alcohol on my hands than I've had down my throat in the last six months!

"Yes, we had concerns at the outset of this crisis and I had people concerned about me, but I'm fine. It's my family I am more worried about.

"My daughter works in the health service and has three young kids. It's difficult going round to see them and only being able to communicate through the window.

"My son is in the United States. He was on the phone to me last week telling me how crazy things are over there at the minute. Restaurants are opening and are packed - madness, in my opinion.

"So, my concerns are not for me but for my kids and family. I feel safe going into work every day. It's my job and it has to be done."

Dentist Chris Scannell donning scrubs and PPE to help NHS in virus war

"Only when Covid-19 touches your life do you realise how horrendous it is," declares former Cliftonville striker Chris Scannell.

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Scannell with wife Ciara and children Erin, Odhran, Aidan and Meabh.

Scannell with wife Ciara and children Erin, Odhran, Aidan and Meabh.

Scannell with wife Ciara and children Erin, Odhran, Aidan and Meabh.

 

In his professional life, Scannell is a qualified dentist who has a private practice in North Belfast and also helps out at a Belfast Trust wellbeing and treatment centre in the city.

With four young children in his household, the man originally from Finaghy is acutely aware of the perils posed by the current coronavirus pandemic.

Members of Scannell's extended family circle have died both here in Northern Ireland and in America.

The popular goalgetter reveals how he got early warnings that this pandemic was going to be calamitous.

"I use an implant company based in Italy", Scannell tells Sunday Life Sport.

"We have an online group of around 200 dentists from all over Europe, and they were able to tell me how bad it was going to be, especially the guys in Italy and Spain.

"They were telling us, 'This is truly horrendous, you must do something, you must prepare', before the coronavirus arrived here, although the UK was a bit slow to react at the outset. They were telling us personal stories about their children, their parents, their grandparents, what they were seeing in hospitals and all the time were urging us to take action immediately.

"It's only when it touches your life that it brings home to you the scale of what we are facing and how horrendous it is.

"I know people who have died, both here and in New York. My brother has been getting treatment for cancer and tested positive for the coronavirus.

"He is okay now, thankfully, but it was touch and go. You just don't realise the impact it will have until it comes to your door."

Despite his private practice being officially closed to the public, the man who scored over 100 goals for the Reds as a one-club player is still working every day, fielding phone calls and offering advice and guidance under severe restrictions while also allocating his time to help NHS patients.

He sees first-hand the risks posed to members of the public, particularly the vulnerable, and has his own warning on what the future may hold.

"Fortunately, the numbers of those affected haven't been as bad as in other parts of the British Isles, but there is a huge risk of complacency because of that.

"People can become frustrated with the lockdown and blasé about the remaining dangers of the virus.

"We closed down our private practice on March 23, but we are in every day manning the phones to help our patients. We cannot treat them because of the aerosol aspect to our tools, but we can offer advice on swellings, infections, crowns and temporary fillings.

"When I go into the Wellbeing Centre, I get into my scrubs, get the PPE on and take X-rays. it's very hard to communicate with the masks on and sometimes unsettling for the patients.

"Then there is the heat. Because the virus can be airborne, all windows must be closed, and with the scrubs and PPE on, it can get very uncomfortable. Unfortunately, this is the way it is going to be for the foreseeable future."

Belfast Telegraph