Tuesday 24 October 2017

Dad's fury after sick six-week-old girl waits 11 hours in A&E department

Cork University Hospital
Cork University Hospital
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

A furious couple have described how they waited more than 11 hours in an A&E department for their six-week-old baby to be given a hospital bed.

Dad Daniel Long told how they sat waiting in the hospital overnight after their young baby couldn’t keep her bottle down and kept on being sick.

The new parents noticed that their baby wasn’t feeling well on the Sunday evening and booked an appointment at nearby clinic SouthDoc.

“She was very sick in herself and roaring crying,” Daniel told Neil Prendeville on RedFM.

“We contacted SouthDoc and arranged an appointment for 10.30 on the Sunday night, we were then told to go straight to Cork’s University Hospital because they felt our baby was dehydrated.”

On arrival at the CUH, Daniel and his partner Debbie Mooney were told they would be “seen in a couple of minutes” because their daughter was so young.

“About 20 minutes later we were still waiting,” Daniel said.

“There were about two or three couples who came in and there was another girl with another child who was probably four or five… they were all seen before us.”

Daniel described how he became increasingly worried after their baby girl began vomiting in the children’s waiting room.

“She was inconsolable crying, she couldn’t stop,” he said.

“She couldn’t tell us what was wrong, with being a six-week-old.

“We’re first-time parents and we were scared and nervous, we didn’t know what was going on and we didn’t know how to calm her down.

“Half an hour later, we were assessed by a nurse. So we had presented ourselves at 11.20pm, we were seen at 12.

“Then we were seen by two minutes by a doctor who asked us to get a urine sample.”

The young couple were forced to hold their daughter over a bowl “three or four inches in diameter” to get a urine sample.

“I have known that they put a urine bag on babies, but this bowl wasn’t the biggest bowl, if you can imagine that.

“They gave us the bowl at 12.15am to try and catch a urine sample and we had to try and get a stool sample from our daughter as well.

“We were then seen by a doctor at 4am. They asked us to keep feeding her and see if she could keep the bottle down, we were so aware that she hadn’t taken a full bottle for over 12 hours.

“Our concern was she didn’t have any fluids in her.”

Daniel and Debbie were told their daughter had a possible kidney infection following the urine sample test and were then told she could have a viral infection following the stool sample testing.

Their daughter continued to vomit during the next few hours.

The couple were told at 10.15am that they would be moving to a room upstairs. This was 11 hours after first presenting themselves at the A&E.

“We left the A&E at 10.30am, almost 11 hours later with a six-week-old child,” Daniel said.

“It was distressing. After being told of the possible infections, you would imagine she would have been admitted to a room straightaway. But we were still left for four or five hours after those test results.

“I didn’t [ask any questions about the wait]. My main concern was my daughter, we were more worried about her than asking every question we should have asked.

“You’re in the place at the time and your head isn’t in the right space at all.”

The young family were discharged from the hospital on Tuesday night shortly after 10pm. 

The family's experience is due to be raised in the Dáil for Leaders' Questions today and the HSE are expected to release a statement in relation to the incident later today.

The incident comes as nurses in accident and emergency units in the country's hospitals voted last week in favour of industrial action over the overcrowding crisis.

The Irish Nurses' and Midwives' Organisation (INMO) said there was overwhelmingly support - 92% - for work stoppages in 25 A&E departments and that its members were walking out as a last resort.

The industrial action will take place from Tuesday December 15 over two to three hours and will roll across hospitals.

The INMO vowed to continue the strike action into the new year with other work stoppages being planned

Some of the country's busiest emergency departments today include Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown and the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital in Dublin, all in the eastern region.

The Taoiseach has apologised to Daniel Long and his partner Debbie Looney after Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams raised the incident during leaders' questions in the Dail.

Mr Kenny said he empathised with the parents' concerns.

"Cork University Hospital are carrying out an investigation into why this child was on a trolley for 11 hours," he said.

"I am glad to note that the little baby Orlaith is recovering well at home and making good progress."

He added: "I'm glad the little child is recovering well. I'm sorry that she was on a trolley for those hours and I expect that the management of the hospital will respond to the minister (Leo Varadkar) and to the HSE as to why that actually happened."

Mr Adams told Mr Kenny an apology in the latest case was "not good enough".

"You are responsible for a health service in chaos," he said.

"And there's no point saying you are sorry - the fact is you are in charge and the fact is this government, led by Fine Gael and supported by Labour, will not adequately resource our hospitals because you do not believe in a public health model."

Earlier in leaders questions, Mr Kenny conceded that University Hospital Galway's A&E was "not fit for purpose".

"The emergency department in University College Hospital Galway is not fit for purpose in this day and age and the staff who work there, work under extraordinary conditions," he said.

"It's one of the most inadequate facilities in the country and needs to be replaced."

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has asked why a replacement of the facility was not included the Government's latest list of capital project spends for health.

The Taoiseach said he did not know what stage the design process was at but said he would make it his business to ensure that the HSE was informed of the situation

"I accept the emergency department needs to be replaced, I accept that requires design, approval, planning - all of these processes that must be gone through - and at the end of that there will be a very substantial sum invested to replace it."

He added: "This facility needs to be replaced but you can't replace them all overnight."

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