• ~ Ireland’s ICU doctors, nurses and staff aim to raise €100,000 for 4 charities affected by the Covid-19 Crisis with ICU 4 U Charity Cycle ~
  • ~ Breakthrough Cancer Research, Alone, Aware, and ICUsteps to benefit ~
  • ~ Supported by ambassadors including Comedian and TV celebrity Graham Norton, Olympic rower Paul O’Donovan, and hotelier and TV personality John Brennan ~

Intensive Care Unit (ICU) doctors, nurses and staff from all over Ireland are taking part in a charity cycle to Dublin on September 3rd and 4th in aid of four charities supporting people specifically affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

The ICU 4 U Charity Cycle aims to raise at least €100,000 for Alone (older people), Breakthrough Cancer Research (new cancer treatments), Aware (mental health) and ICUsteps (ICU patient aftercare support).

Several high profile ambassadors have come on board to help promote the charity initiative, including TV celebrity Graham Norton, champion Olympic rower Paul O’Donovan, and hotelier and TV personality John Brennan, who has been cocooning with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

The concept for the charity cycle arose as many Irish doctors, nurses and ancillary staff of the Intensive Care Units across the country said that although they immensely appreciate the ongoing support of the Irish public throughout the Covid19 pandemic, they are uncomfortable being labelled ‘heroic’ and ‘frontline’ and want to turn the focus back on the patients and the supporting charities that help the most vulnerable in society, in particular those most affected by the Covid-19 crisis.

The team has already raised more than half of the €100k target thanks to incredible support from corporate sponsors, including lead sponsor AerCap, gold sponsors Eli Lily and BNP Paribas, silver sponsors Pfizer and Gilead, and other supporters.

Commenting, chief organiser Dr. Patrick Seigne, Consultant Intensivist at Cork University Hospital ICU, said “Many ICU staff are uncomfortable with being put up on a pedestal during the Crisis, as we are just doing our jobs albeit in challenging times.  We are extremely grateful for the gifts we received from the public but we need to put the focus back where it is most needed – with the patients and charities.  The impact of Covid-19 reaches far beyond the ICU, and we are only beginning to see the secondary challenges, in particular with the elderly, those in nursing homes, those experiencing anxiety and mental illness, Covid-19 ICU survivors, and cancer patients who are particularly vulnerable to the virus, have had their diagnosis delayed, and urgently need new treatments.”

ICU 4 U Ambassador, Graham Norton, who launched the campaign, said, “The entire nation is grateful to these incredible doctors and their teams who have been working tirelessly in the ICU to keep our most vulnerable safe.  But the modest bunch who have been putting their lives at risk throughout this pandemic say it’s just their job and I applaud them for leading the way in putting the public focus back on supporting charities who badly need funding.”

The 2-day ICU 4 U Cycle, cognisant of any restrictions that will be in place in any county due to Covid, will start on September 3rd from five locations in Ireland – Belfast, Galway, Limerick, Cork and Waterford – and will end on September 4th in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, where the teams of 15 cyclists will meet and cycle together towards Aras an Uachtarain. A smaller group will then cycle on through central Dublin to the College of Anaesthesiology of Ireland in Merrion Square (the home of both the Intensive Care Society of Ireland and the Joint Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine of Ireland) and another small group will cycle on to the Mater Hospital, where the most severely ill  ICU patients are sometimes sent for ECMO treatment (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation).  This is also the hospital that managed a significant number of Covid-19 patients.

Money raised by the ICU 4 U Charity cycle will be donated to four charities particularly affected by the Covid-19 crisis:

Breakthrough Cancer Research (Breakthrough) is an Irish medical research charity focused on disrupting cancer’s future and saving lives, one research breakthrough at a time.  The charity had to put some of its research and even clinical trials on hold over the past few months because of temporary restrictions to university laboratories and hospitals, as well as the widespread cancelation of fundraising events.  Many people also avoided investigating new symptoms and health complaints during the lockdown which will most likely lead to a delay in cancer diagnoses. When every second counts, new and better treatments have never mattered more.

ALONE, a national organisation that supports and empowers older people to age happily and securely at home, saw a 39% surge in calls to their helpline since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, with a rise in reports of elder abuse, loss of independence, and fears about reintegrating back into society.  Their new Health and Wellbeing Plan addresses key issues that continue to affect older people in the later current Covid-19 Roadmap, including social interaction, activities, fitness, and physical and mental wellbeing.  The charity works with all older people, including those who are lonely, isolated, homeless, living in poverty, or are experiencing other difficulties, supporting them through these challenges to help find long term solutions.

Aware, the leading mental health organisation providing support, education and information services for those impacted by depression, bipolar disorder and other mood related conditions, has recorded a 68% rise in calls since the emergence of Covid-19, with significant peaks in April, May and July of over 80%, highlighting the impact of the pandemic on public wellbeing. Since the start of the crisis, Aware has modified the way the organisation delivers its services to address logistical challenges and meet the increase in demand for services. The introduction of an app allows volunteers to take calls at home ensuring continuity of the Support Line service, Aware’s Support and Self Care Groups have been replaced with Zoom and conference call meetings, and they significantly increased delivery of their online positive mental health programmes, along with moving a number of group programme to the virtual classroom.

ICUsteps Dublin, a national voluntary support group that helps those recovering from critical illness with long-term physical and psychological consequences, has been working with many Covid-19 ICU patients throughout the country.  COVID adds to the distress of ICU patients, including increased delirium, disorientation and difficulty communicating with staff wearing PPE, as well as being separated from family. They advocate for the provision of aftercare in the shape of a formalised follow up after ICU discharge to the ward and a follow-up clinic. These measures may reduce some of the long-term problems and improve quality of life.

The ICU 4 U Charity Cycle is sponsored by AerCap (lead sponsor), Eli Lily (Gold), BNP Paribas (Gold), Pfizer (Silver) and Gilead (Silver), and other supporters including Intersurgical, the Dalata Group, the Intensive Care Society of Ireland, the Irish Association of Critical Care Nurses, The Edge Sports, An Garda Síochána, Cycling Ireland, Irish Rail and Harris Group.

For further information see www.icu4u.ie.

Press Contact:

Please contact Niamh Murphy, ETC, [email protected] 0870617705 for interview ops or further information.

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