Tuesday 19 September 2017

Publican had to share trolley with handcuffed prisoner because overcrowding was so bad in hospital

Sam McNicholl
Sam McNicholl
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A publican has revealed that a Cork Emergency Department was so crowded he had to share a trolley with a prisoner handcuffed to an Irish Prison Service officer.

Sam McNicholl, a publican and musician, runs the famous Connolly's Bar in Leap in west Cork.

However, he was stricken with a severe pain in his side last week and his girlfriend feared he could be suffering from an acute appendicitis.

"Rather than wait for an ambulance we went straight to Cork University Hospital (CUH) at about 11pm," he said.

Mr McNicholl said he was left with total admiration for nurses and doctors who worked tirelessly to help patients despite the incredibly crowded conditions.

Over the past fortnight, the Emergency Department in CUH has ranked, along with University Hospital Limerick (UHL), as the busiest in the country.

CUH had a record number of patients on trolleys last month in its Emergency Department.

"I had a trolley eight hours after I arrived. Staff kept me updated at the beginning," Mr McNicholl said.

"I was taking turn on the trolley with another person. I would lie down for half an hour and he would take it himself. He was a prisoner and handcuffed with someone else."

The publican was so taken by the diligence of CUH staff in trying conditions he contacted Cork radio station 103FM to pay personal tribute to their dedication.

"I arrived in the emergency room with my girlfriend. She was quite persistent that I needed to be seen very quickly," he said.

"We may have jumped the queue there a little bit. But I was in terrible pain - actually doubling over.

"It was 10 out of 10 pain. The front line nurses saw me and that was where most of the chaos was.

"I was given morphine and was put in a plastic type of chair - not even a trolley.

"I am young, healthy and fit. I guess I was ignorant to the situation existing in a bubble so I was suddenly thrust into a reality for a lot of (other) people."

Mr McNicholl said he never would have imagined the work demands being placed on front line HSE staff.

"I have (huge) admiration for nurses for the job they do. It was like conveyor belt of people coming in and sitting and waiting.

"It was just people on trolleys, (mostly) older people and all that hustle and bustle all around.

"It was a place that was overrun and crowded and I just wanted to get out of there."

Mr McNicholl arrived at the emergency department at 11pm and had his priority surgery at 4pm the next day.

"The nurses in the wards are overextended and overworked. Any time I met them they were at the end of it. I could handle it only for a day or two.

"I just felt it was a system that was broken. The world is obsessed by what is happening in the United States or England but at home we have all this happening and it seems to be ignored."

Mr McNicholl's business, Connollys Bar in Leap, ranks as one of Ireland's most iconic music venues.

The pub dates back more than 400 years and, over more than 30 years, it has become legendary for its impromptu gigs.

Famously, the pub inspired the phrase amongst visiting musicians: 'No sleep till Connolly's of Leap.'

The pub was previously operated by Mr McNicholl's late father, Paddy, who died in 2010.

Mr McNicholl re-opened the pub as a special music venue two years ago.

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