'Porters joked as they wheeled my dead partner away'
Published 20/05/2010 | 05:00
A WOMAN yesterday gave a harrowing account of her partner's final hours in hospital.
Well-known archivist Catriona Crowe told of her distress as she witnessed two hospital porters laughing as they took her partner, who had suffered a fatal heart attack, away on a trolley. Ms Crowe, who works at the National Archives, was recalling the death in January last year of her partner Pat O Faolain (61) -- the painter and Abbey theatre doorman.
"Pat had suffered a serious heart attack three years previously," she explained.
Mr O Faolain was taken to an accident and emergency department in Dublin after he collapsed, although he had been a patient at another hospital.
"He was brought into the critical care part of the facility, an unpleasant corridor off the main A&E. Even though I explained his heart was badly damaged, no cardiologist saw him until he was dying three hours later."
Mr O Faolain died several hours later despite attempts to resuscitate him. But as he lay dying, a drunk patient was allowed to create a disturbance along the corridor. "His behaviour seemed to amuse A&E staff and nothing was done to quieten him," she said.
Ms Crowe recalled having to sit in a small office as doctors attempted to save Mr Faolain, and after he died she felt that "everyone fled" as she was taken to see him. "No one stayed near me. It was as if the staff were ashamed of their failure to save him."
Speaking at a conference organised by the Irish Hospice Foundation, she said: "The doors of the mortuary were jammed open and we could only stay a short time with him which broke my heart."
Later she met with the two doctors who had been in charge of Mr O Faolain's care and they assured her that her partner had not suffered.
Ms Crowe has called for changes in hospital practices including keeping drunken pat- ients away from the seriously ill, training for staff on how to behave in the presence of the dead and free bereavement counselling nationwide.