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UCC Staff Recognition Awards 2020

Warm congratulations to Colette Cunningham who has received the 2020 Impact Award!

Each year, UCC honours nominated staff members for their outstanding contributions to University life and the wider community.

Colette's response to the COVID-19 outbreak was exceptional

With the arrival of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Ireland, Colette was one of the main instigators in the creation of a Contact Tracing Hub for Cork and Kerry HSE Occupational Health, in March 2020.

A nurse by profession, with an MPH and MA in Public Health, Colette normally lectures in UCC's School of Public Health. She has extensive knowledge/experience in the management of pandemics, epidemics and outbreaks having worked in 14 African countries.

Colette immediately took on an additional role with a sole focus of setting up an Occupational Health Hub to organise/manage healthcare workers. Having secured permission to use the Boole Hub in UCC, and based on her extensive experience in managing pandemics, she coordinated the workings of 3 teams:

1. Clinical Occupational Health Team – Nurses and Physicians

2. Occupational Health Telephone Support Team - mainly HSE redeployed staff

3. Contact Tracing Team – HSE redeployed staff and volunteers from UCC.

The creation of this model of working, and its success in track and tracing, has been recognised nationally as a very effective way of collaborative working, with the potential of providing a blueprint for how such hubs should operate. As a result, Colette has been invited to be on the steering committee to advise on the establishment of effective track and tracing teams.

An inspiration during a very challenging time

From the outset, Colette worked tirelessly, seven days a week, to ensure the smooth running of the Hub. Colette was inspirational in her work and leadership, totally selfless and went above and beyond for all. Colette’s communication skills and care of all staff ensured a safe and pleasant environment to work in, as well as having a huge impact on those frontline healthcare workers who were touched and/or troubled by COVID-19.

As we had never experienced pandemic of such enormity in Ireland, Colette’s impact was significant and widespread.

Colette upholds the mission and values of UCC through her creation, understanding and sharing of knowledge and applying it for the good of all, as well as her outstanding leadership, scholarship and service to the community at large.

Well done from all the team in the School of Public Health.

The UCC Research Awards ceremony can be viewed at the following link:


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