Local Faces: Dr Anna Rose Prior, Consultant Microbiologist at Tallaght University Hospital

By Mary Dennehy

GROWING up in Tallaght, Anna Rose Prior always wanted to work in her local hospital.

Living in Raheen, a young Anna Rose attended St Mark’s Community School, which, nurturing her interest in science and biology, helped pave her path to a career in medicine. 

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Dr Anna Rose Prior works with a big team focusing on making the hospital as safe as possible for patients

The oldest of five siblings, Anna Rose headed to Trinity College after her Leaving Certificate, and following six years of hard graft, qualified as a doctor in 2005.

Three years into her career, Anna Rose decided to specialise in microbiology – and worked across a number of hospitals before joining Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) in July 2017 as Dr Anna Rose Prior, Consultant Microbiologist.

“My job is very broad”, Anna Rose told The Echo.

“I work alongside the lab, testing for infections in the hospital and then using these results to treat and care for patients with infections.

“I get involved when patients have more complex infections, and where a week of anti-biotics won’t work.

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Raheen native, Consultant Microbiologist, Dr Anna Rose Prior is delighted to work at Tallaght University Hospital

“I’m also involved in infection control within the hospital.”

Since March of this year, Anna Rose, who lives in Knocklyon with her two young sons, has applied all of her training and experience to managing the challenges presented by Covid-19, and working to make TUH a safe place for patients and staff.

“[Covid] is quite different, there is no evidence base to learn from, everything is learning”, she said.

Local Faces Dr Anna Rose Prior outside TUH 1

Dr Anna Rose Prior (Pic: Tommy Walsh, TUH Medical Photographer)

“We get outbreaks every year, like the Flu, and we have to take measures to control the spread in the hospital.

“We have infection control principles… but we had to apply those principles in a very different setting.

“[With Covid] it’s about expecting the unexpected all of the time… and being prepared.”

Local Faces Dr Anna Rose Prior in the Laboratory 1

Dr Anna Rose (Pic: Tommy Walsh, TUH Medical Photographer) 

Keeping the hospital as safe as possible in order for it to remain open for all patients has been the focus of Anna Rose’s work in recent months – as TUH returns to normal activity.

“We can’t say there is zero risk but we try to minimise risk”, she said.

“There’s a big team here focusing on making the hospital as safe as possible.

Local Faces Dr Anna Rose Prior SMALL with staff 1

(Pic: Tommy Walsh, TUH Medical Photographer) 

“Covid is getting all of the focus at the moment, but if you are sick for other reasons, you need to come to the hospital.

“We don’t want people’s overall health to suffer because of Covid.”

As hospitals right across the country work to manage a rise in Covid-19 cases, Anna Rose said that a lot of knowledge was acquired during the first wave – with new ways of working, like virtual clinics, also in operation in TUH.

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Dr Anna Rose Prior

“The hospital is a community of workers and I think Covid enhanced that”, Anna Rose said.

“We wouldn’t have managed as well through Covid if we didn’t work so well together.

“We’ve worked together to keep patients safe and achieve the best outcomes for all patients, we’ve all been focused on this.”

Alongside being a Consultant Microbiologist, Anna Rose is a busy mam to two young boys, aged six and eight. When speaking with The Echo this week, Anna Rose had just returned to work after a few days off for the mid-term.

With her work so consumed by Covid-19, does Anna Rose find it easy to switch off?

“At the start I found it very difficult to switch off”, she said.

“I had to make an active decision to limit what I was watching and reading. 

“There is a lot of speculation out there, and you can get bogged down with what people are saying.

“So much is out of your control, and I think you have to make a decision to focus on what you need to know and what you can do.

“I think we all need to limit our time and ask what affects you?

“What can you do to keep yourself and your family safe, do your piece.”

With two young boys, how did Anna Rose feel when the schools re-opened?

“It’s important the schools are open… and that we all limit our interactions, including kids outside of school, to make schools safer, and keep them open.

“The kids have been great and have adapted quite well but it’s important for them to have the social and educational [benefits of school].”

Despite the challenges and constant busyness presented by Covid-19, Anna Rose stressed that working in Tallaght University Hospital is exactly where she wants to be – as she works as part of the TUH team to support and care for patients and the wider community. 

“I’ve always wanted to work here, I remember back to when there was loads of discussions about a hospital being built”, Anna Rose said.

“There’s a real sense of community in Tallaght Hospital, a real sense of belonging.

“This is my local hospital and if I was sick or someone in my family was sick, we would end up here.

“It’s my local hospital and my community, I’m delighted that I work here.”

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