'I was terrified for my life' - Mum (45) who suffered heart attack lashes out at lack of cardiac care
A woman who suffered a heart attack at her home has slammed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for not providing 24/7 cardiac care at University Hospital Waterford.
Mother-of-three Eleanor Cullen (45) initially thought she was suffering from indigestion or hunger pains in her chest, but as the pains didn't cease, she called for help from the emergency services.
In the ambulance outside her home, blood tests revealed she had suffered a heart attack.
She explained how it was decided to make the journey to University Cork Hospital because University Hospital Waterford (UHW) didn't have the facilities to care for her as it was out of hours.
Waterford is one of seven major cardiac services to operate daytime hours only. The absence of a night-time service in the southeast means emergency patients have to be brought by ambulance - or helicopter when available - to Dublin or Cork.
Last year Thomas Power (40) from Belle Lake, Co Waterford, died when he was transferred to Cork University Hospital (CUH) because the Waterford catheterisation lab was closed for the weekend.
His death caused local outrage and led to mass protests in the area.
According to Ms Cullen, the coronary team had to decide outside her home that she was going to CUH.
Speaking on WLRFM's 'Déise Today' with Eamon Keane from her bedside in the Coronary Care at CUH, she challenged the Taoiseach to give a valid reason why there is no 24/7 cardiac care in Waterford. "I'd love Leo Varadkar to come and look at me and give me a valid reason why he won't [provide 24/7 cardiac care]," she said.
"There is a lot of people down there [Waterford], I'm not going to be the first one and I'm not going to be the last one either."
Praising the medical team that looked after her in Waterford and Cork, she said: "They told me 'you will be going to Cork' and that made me a bit anxious; I was terrified of my life but I had a doctor and nurse with me."
Ms Cullen now faces the prospect of a bypass and her family have to make the journey from Waterford to Cork to see her.
"It's a real issue which I didn't take seriously as I'm sure others don't until it knocked at my door," added Ms Cullen. Representatives from the Taoiseach's office were unavailable for comment at the time of going to print. A spokesperson for UHW said it does not comment on individual cases.