'You just want to get a bed or get sent home'
Published 21/01/2016 | 02:30
Patricia Barnes (28) from Finglas in Dublin has been at the Mater Hospital's Emergency Department (ED) twice this week.
In fact, she said she has attended the ED around 10 times in the last six months, as she has been suffering with extremely painful rheumatoid arthritis.
Patricia said she attended the ED on Monday and was back again yesterday.
"It's absolutely packed," she said, as she nipped outside the ED for a breath of fresh air.
"I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when I was 17, which is very painful," she said.
"My fingers are swollen and all my joints swell out," said Patricia, who said she has been in agony.
She explained everyday tasks, such as washing her hair, are hard because of her condition.
"I can't do those things when the pain gets too bad. My mam and dad help me a lot. I get very stiff and very sore," she said.
"I'm in agony," she explained.
"I was supposed to be starting a treatment on Christmas Day, but because I had an infection, I couldn't start it," she said.
Speaking about having to wait to be seen in an ED, she said: "It's long and it's boring, and you kind of want to just be in and out, don't you?
"You just want to get looked after, and either get a bed or get sent home," she commented.
Having attended the ED on quite a few occasions, Patricia said she has observed people getting distressed as a result of overcrowding.
However, she stressed that the care provided by the staff at the Mater Hospital is fantastic.
"The staff are excellent. They are run off their feet and you can see it," she said.
Patricia was able to leave the hospital yesterday after getting some expert advice.
A member of the hospital's rheumatology team came to see her in the ED and advised her she could now begin the treatment she had been due to start. She was then able to go home.
It was business as usual yesterday at the Mater, with its busy waiting room. The hospital had issued a statement saying it was experiencing very high numbers and protracted waiting times in its ED.
Outside the unit, another woman came outside briefly for a break.
"I was seen straight away in the ED. I had a letter from my GP," she explained.
Meanwhile, a statement from the hospital said: "The Mater Hospital and its staff endeavours at all times to treat all patients that are admitted to its Emergency Department with the highest possible standard of care and compassion.
"The Mater Hospital does not comment on individual patient cases, but does assess and validate all issues brought to its attention."