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The Dorsal View

How did hospitals get back in the habit?

At time of writing, the controversy over ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital is in full swing. The situation is being updated almost daily, with claims of turmoil among the board and reassurances from Minister for Health Simon Harris that the nuns will not be prowling the wards issuing instructions.

Indeed, this is probably the biggest controversy Minister Harris has had to face since taking the ‘big chair’ and will be a real test of his mettle.  And his public approval rating.

For those of you who have been living under a rock, a quick synopsis: The Sisters of Charity religious order has been granted sole ownership of the new National Maternity Hospital, which at €300 million represents the largest single investment ever by the State into maternity services.

Former Master of the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dublin, Dr Peter Boylan, was particularly exercised on the issue and told RTÉ: “It’s just not right that a maternity hospital in 2017 in Ireland, 100 years after the foundation of the state, should be transferred from the governance of the maternity hospital to the religious orders of the Sisters of Charity…

“This is 2017, it’s Ireland. Can we not grow up and just stop this from going on, of handing over State assets to a religious order? A maternity hospital being given to the nuns? Come on.”

Dr Boylan’s comments were apparently not well received and the Irish Independent reported that he was asked to resign from the Holles St board via text message — a request he swiftly declined. However — again, at time of writing — he did indeed decide to step down. This situation has already turned into a steaming-hot mess.

Simon Harris has given assurances of a ‘triple-lock’ to keep the hospital autonomous, but then again, there are those who might even welcome the nuns’ operational input and quote the old chestnut, ‘ah, sure, the hospitals were never so clean as when the nuns were running the wards’.

It needs to be restated that the Sisters of Charity still owe millions of euro in compensation to victims of institutional abuse and public opinion seems to be unequivocal; the petition to block the ownership has already been signed by more than 94,000 people (https://my.uplift.ie/petitions/block-sisters-of-chairty-as-sole-owners-of-national-maternity-hospital?bucket). At the very least, the optics are terrible.

I would be interested in your opinions on this at the email address below or via the Medical Independent’s social media channels. As for the nuns, amid the chaos that has been created by this move, they seem to have taken a vow of silence.

Horns of a dilemma 

Staying with matters parental, a rather clever wheeze has been concocted by the keepers of the world’s last male northern white rhino, who goes by the name of ‘Sudan’.

The old fella is aged 43 years, which is equivalent to around 94 in human years, and his two remaining female companions are no spring chickens either and are also the last of their kind. This has led his keepers to set up a membership for Sudan on Tinder, which I’m reliably informed by younger people is a dating app.

His conservationist keepers in a Kenyan wildlife reserve describe him on Tinder as “the most eligible bachelor in the world”. Because of his advanced age, the plan is to raise around €8.5 million for in vitro fertilisation and prevent the species becoming extinct.

His profile reads: “I don’t mean to be too forward, but the fate of the species literally depends on me.

“I perform well under pressure. I like to eat grass and chill in the mud. No problems. Six feet tall and 5,000 pounds, if it matters.”

He was removed from a zoo because it wasn’t putting him in the mood but on the reserve, he requires a 24-hour armed guard, as the species has been hunted almost to extinction by poachers.

Still, his keepers have gone above and beyond the call of duty to get the big guy into action. “We tried everything to get them to mate naturally,” his keepers told Reuters.

“When he first tried to mount the girl, the rangers guided him… but it is difficult with a rhino.” No kidding.

IVF-specialist readers, take note. You don’t have it as hard as you think. 

Lesson learned

Thanks to the reader who sent me this one to finish.

A college physics professor is explaining a complicated concept to his class when a pre-med student interrupts him.

“Why do we have to learn this stuff?” the student blurts out. “To save lives,” the professor responds, before continuing. A few minutes later, the student pipes-up again. “So how does physics save lives?”

The professor stares at the student for a long time, before replying: “Physics saves lives, young man, because it keeps the idiots out of medical school.”

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