'My sick baby had to wait at A&E while drunk teens were treated'
An anxious mother was left waiting on a chair with her sick baby while a children's hospital emergency department (ED) was overrun with drunken teens on St Patrick's Day.
Suzy Brien (23) and her partner Calvin Ruddell, from Ashbourne, Co Meath, brought their seven-month-old-son Charlie to Temple Street Children's Hospital shortly after noon on Thursday.
The toddler had bronchitis and was vomiting when his worried parents brought him to the hospital. When they arrived, they were shocked to see a number of drunk youngsters in the emergency department. Ms Brien said they were left to wait on a chair with Charlie, while drunk teens were given beds.
"We were left in the waiting room for two-and-a-half hours which is fine because I know they are busy, but it was hard to see teenagers getting carted in to a cubicle straight away," Ms Brien said. Five teenagers aged between 13 and 16 years were brought by ambulance to Temple Street Children's Hospital between noon and 2pm.
A hospital spokeswoman confirmed the teenagers "did cause some delay to other patients being seen but none of the teenagers had to be admitted and all went home" on Thursday.
"Our Director of Nursing also confirmed that there was no compromising of care in this instance," she said. "Unfortunately, parents of small children were exposed to these teens being brought into our ED because of the way in which the ED is configured and space limitations."
Charlie was assessed by a nurse 20 minutes after his arrival, and a doctor about two hours later, who determined that the youngster needed to be put on a nebuliser to help him breathe.
The couple were allowed into a cubicle to administer the nebuliser but the baby was only able to take half of the medicine and his parents managed to settle him to sleep on the bed.
However, they were then asked to leave the cubicle again to allow a teenager to use the bed to sleep off the effects of too much alcohol.
"When you're trying to get a nebuliser around a seven-month-old who is screaming crying and then you are sent out of the cubicle, it's a nightmare," said Ms Brien.
"You couldn't fault the staff, they're really good. It was just the fact that those teenagers woke up yesterday morning and they weren't sick. To see them getting prioritised was awful."
During their five hours in the ED, Ms Brien said she also witnessed one teenager being verbally abusive to their parent, others vomiting and another teen who had to be helped onto a trolley by a number of nursing staff.