They’re Only the Little People
The following article was published in some Irish American newspapers on May the 8th. It is another another insight in to the standard of healthcare in Ireland under the leadership Minister James Reilly, with the support of the Irish Labour Party.It is well known fact worldwide, even in the third world that Ireland is one of the worst places to get sick. In this article April Drew an American certainly agrees from first hand experience.
Only the Little People
The following article was published in some Irish American newspapers on May the 8th. It is another another insight in to the standard of healthcare in Ireland under the leadership Minister James Reilly, with the support of the Irish Labour Party.It is well known fact worldwide, even in the third world that Ireland is one of the worst places to get sick. In this article April Drew and American certainly agrees from first hand experience.
“Since our return to Ireland last May life in Ireland has been good to our family. I’ve not complained about much. We have everything we want and we remain positive when friends in the U.S. ask us how we could live in an Ireland steeped in a recession because they certainly couldn’t.
We had nothing negative to say about our own experience and that’s the truth …until now that is.
It has finally happened. We came face to face (indirectly) with the Irish medical system, and yes, it’s as bad as they say it is. It’s an utter disgrace, and I’m here to tell you what we saw first-hand. It wasn’t pretty.
My husband John’s mother made a recent trip to the emergency room at the, about a ten-minute drive from her home. It turned out it wasn’t a serious issue but she needed tending to immediately.
She arrived at the reception area of the emergency department at 6:10 p.m. on a Wednesday evening. Like any emergency room at that time of the day it was manic.
Seats were full. Patients and their loved ones stood along corridors, sat on floors and paced back and forth in an effort not to go insane. Parents and children, people of pensionable age and many more middle aged folks all looked sickly and irritated.
A young lady who appeared to be in her late twenties told my mother-in-law she had been there three hours and still hadn’t been seen to by a nurse.
“You’re in for a long night,” Mary was told. She had no idea.
After a few minutes of standing, a young man with a gentle face took pity on Mary and gave her his seat. She sat patiently and waited her turn.
It was close to 10 p.m. before a nurse came to take her vitals and carry out some blood work. The nurse advised her yet again that it was going to be a long night.
Midnight struck, and by this stage everyone was tired, cranky and hungry. Mary was finally admitted into the emergency room, and what she saw before her was shocking.
Beds full with patients, some in a very sickly way, took over the floor space. It wasn’t designed for this. Getting to the nurse’s station inside the department felt like one was walking through an obstacle course.
There were beds all over the place. It was utter mayhem. When they ran out of beds, patients (depending on the severity of their medical problem) sat on plastic chairs propped up against walls throughout the department.
Mary was directed to a chair for the following four hours. By this stage she was extremely tired and a little weak. She watched as some unruly characters entered the emergency room with various ailments, some causing quite a stir.
In the end the only reason she got a bed (about 4:30 a.m.) in the emergency room was because she took a weakness and fainted.
At one point during the night she needed to use the bathroom. She was told there was a queue forming and it was best she went outside to the main hospital and used the public toilets. She barely had the energy to get off the bed.
We sat with Mary as she tried to close her eyes to get some sleep. I was disgusted by what I was seeing.
The nurses were running around trying to keep up with patients being admitted and others being discharged. At one point a young fella entered the emergency room via ambulance with what looked like a screwdriver stuck in his head. It wasn’t a pretty sight, and we didn’t ask what kind of altercation he was in before arriving to the hospital.
Not only were the doctors and nurses trying to do their job, but they had to deal with scantily clad girls fighting with each other. A mother sitting across from us attempted to shelter her two-year-old son from such carry on.
It was disgraceful and kind of intimidating too. It was hard to know what would happen next.
When dawn crept in it was made clear to Mary that she would be admitted to the hospital for further tests, but she was warned it would be a while before a bed became available upstairs. Mary worked in that same hospital for 26 years as a secretary and retired three years ago.
It didn’t matter though. There simply wasn’t a bed available for her. The hospital was as overrun as the emergency room.
As I sat with Mary early on the Friday morning I pulled out my laptop and began writing what I saw around me. In the emergency room there were approximately eight bays where patients were put when admitted. All eight bays were full.
There was another 15 or so patients sitting on chairs and 12 or so beds scattered across the moderately sized room. It was simply a case of wherever they could shove in a bed they did.
It was necessary because a lot of these patients weren’t able to sit or stand, but it made the job of the nurses, doctors and porters next to impossible. They zipped in and out between beds, administered medicine where needed and hooked others up to IVs.
My poor mother-in-law was shoved up against a wall near the emergency room entrance. One minute it was warm, too warm. The next minute a blast of cold blew through the corridor making patients shiver.
Behind Mary a little baby shared a chair with his mother. He squealed in pain. The nurses tried to appease him but it was difficult, both on the little boy and his mother.
Across the corridor we could hear a man coughing. It was a rough, dry cough. The owner clearly didn’t have the energy to lift his head.
He lay on a hospital bed, sheets strewn to the side. He was wearing a pair of jeans, an old looking shirt and had a hole in both his white socks. I’m not sure where his shoes were. He finally stopped coughing.
The sound of monumental pain echoed from the bed next to him. The sounds were ad hoc, but when they came from the small-framed woman propped up in a bed I felt for her. She was alone.
The nurses and doctors were just too busy to attend to her needs. She had been admitted but that’s as far as she got.
A sprightly looking woman had her leg propped up in a bed. She looked exhausted. Later on I spoke with her to discover she came to the hospital at 2 p.m. the previous day and was still waiting for a bed upstairs.
Beside her lay a man in his forties who had chest pains. His wife was worried. He wasn’t being kept in because scans showed nothing out of the ordinary.
He told me he was waiting three hours for discharge papers. He was lying in a bed that could have been used for someone else, but because the staff were so overrun they hadn’t time to release his bed.
Later that day we sat next to a lady in her nineties. She was frail. She didn’t have it in her to even speak.
After a few minutes of tossing and turning she called for a nurse. She looked in distress. No nurse could tend to her. She started vomiting.
John went to her bedside, propped her up and placed a jug underneath her chin so she would not choke while getting sick. The nurse came over, handed John a cardboard bowl and instructed him to hold it under the lady’s chin. He did as he was told.
I could see the woman was ever so embarrassed and very grateful at the same time. She was alone.
I stayed with Mary until lunchtime on the Friday. I left her in an exhausted state and not any closer to a bed in the hospital itself.
As I left the mayhem through the emergency room reception area there was another 40 or so people waiting to be seen to. It was unbelievable.
Mary finally got a bed in a ward upstairs at 5 p.m. on Friday. She was 23 hours in the emergency room.
We read about the state of our hospitals in the newspapers, we hear about it on the radio, we chat about it at dinner parties but to experience it, even indirectly, is a whole different story.
While living in New York we had our fair share of trips to the emergency room and the hospital. Each time we came away saying how wonderful the service was, even if it did cost us an arm and a leg (we didn’t have insurance).
The nurses and doctors were always so attentive, and although we may have waited two or three hours in an emergency room to be seen to or admitted, it was nothing like the craziness I experienced in Limerick last week.
I pray to God that I don’t have to bring either of my two children to the emergency room anytime soon.”
Shock rise in hospital waiting lists
The number of patients waiting more than nine months for hospital treatment has skyrocketed over the past two months after falling substantially in 2012, new figures show.
Latest figures show that of 2,141 adult and child patients were waiting over nine months for a hospital procedure at the end of February, compared to only 109 patients in this category at the end of 2012.
Of these, 396 patients are waiting over 12 months for treatment, compared to only 37 at the end of last year, while 1,745 are waiting between nine and 12 months for treatment, compared to only 72 at the end of December.
The Department of Health told irishhealth.com that winter pressures in hospital emergency departments had led to the increase, but it expected the waiting lists to reduce again as winter pressure on hospitals eased.
The average waiting time for treatment for patients on waiting lists has increased from 2.1 to 2.7 months since December.
The total number on waiting lists in all time categories has increased from 51,708 to 53,400 over the past two months, according to new figures produced by the National Treatment Purchase Fund’s (NTPF) Patient Treatment Register.
The recent major rise in ‘long waiters’ on treatment lists follows a huge reduction in the number of patients waiting over nine months for treatment in 2012 as a result of an initiative by Health Minister James Reilly‘s Special Delivery Unit (SDU).
The NTPF figures show that the number of patients waiting over nine months for treatment dropped from 4,884 in February 2012 down to 109 in December. During that period, the average waiting time for treatment dropped from 3.1 to 2.1 months.
Minister Reilly and the HSE had pledged that no patient would be waiting over nine months for treatment by the end of 2012, and the current target is to reduce the maximum treatment waiting time to eight months this year.
The figures would indicate that Dr Reilly’s waiting list initiative is in danger of coming off the rails following the recent increase in waiting numbers and waiting times.
However, a Department of Health spokesperson said ‘significant bounceback’ in waiting times in the early months of this year was expected, as winter pressures in emergency departments had impacted on scheduled care waiting times.
“In the coming months, as winter pressures ease, the SDU will work towards re-balancing scheduled care both to maintain the improvements seen in 2012 and to achieve the new 2013 target that no adult should be waiting longer than eight months for treatment.”
The Department said the figure of 2,14 people waiting over nine months for treatment was the total number of adults and children waiting and patients waiting for routine endoscopes, each of which had different targets.
The figures show that around 97% of the 2,141 figure comprises adults waiting over nine months for treatment, with the remainder made up of children awaiting treatment and patients awaiting endoscopies.
The Mater currently has 5,011 patients on waiting lists for hospital treatment, of which 521 have been waiting longer than nine months for treatment, or 10% of total patients on waiting lists at the hospital.
The hospital with the next worst record for long waiters is Cork University Hospital, where 236 (just under 9%) of its 2,708 patients on waiting lists have been waiting over nine months for treatment.
The hospital with the largest number of patients on waiting lists is St James’s in Dublin, with 5,529. However, only 3.5% of these patients have been waiting over nine months for treatment.
Nearly 12,000 patients have had their admission to hospital for treatments such as surgery cancelled between March and September this year.
Although there is a range of reasons for this, the most common problem is that the bed the patient due admission was going to be placed in had to be given to a patient who came through the hospital emergency department.
A lack of intensive care beds can also lead to cancellations because they are already occupied, leaving patients who will need to be admitted after surgery, waiting longer for their operation.
The cancellation can cause major upset and inconvenience as well as being very disruptive for someone who badly needs to have an operation or test.
New €24m hospital extension to open in Letterkenny today under cloud of controversy – National News – Independent.ie
HOSPITAL managers showed off the country’s only newest medical facility, and defended the closure of a gynaecology ward to free up nurses to staff it.
The new medical block and emergency department at Letterkenny General Hospital cost more than €24M to complete.
When it is finally opened to patients today it will end a nine-year saga, having first been announced by then Health Minister Micheal Martin in July 2003. Work stopped on the project two years ago when builders McNamaras went into liquidation.
Now the celebrations surrounding the state-of-the-art facility have been overshadowed by a local campaign against the closure of the hospital’s gynae ward. Eleven staff there are being redeployed to facilitate the new emergency department and additional 72-bed unit.