Thursday 21 November 2019

'I'll never forgive system' - son's anger as mother's body lay for hours in A&E

Bereaved: Steve Crowley and his mother Evelyn while he was her carer
Bereaved: Steve Crowley and his mother Evelyn while he was her carer
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The distraught son of a woman whose dead body lay for hours in an overcrowded A&E has spoken of his anguish about the lack of dignity shown to her.

Cork man Steve Crowley's mother Evelyn (70) passed away suddenly in Cork University Hospital three weeks ago as it endured another day of trolley chaos.

There was no room free to which his mother's body could be moved for several hours.

Grief-stricken Mr Crowley, who was a full time carer for his mother for the past 14 years after her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, said after she passed away in the A&E her body was placed in a triage section.

"She was placed behind one of the curtains in a triage room where patients are taken for bandaging.

"Staff kept coming in and out looking for things and people," he told 'The Neil Prendeville Show' on Cork's Red FM.

He described how another patient nearby was changing ringtones on his phone unaware the body of late mother was nearby.

"A priest came in to say a prayer but five people must have been in and out during that time looking for things," said Mr Crowley.

He returned from Australia to care for his mother after her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis 14 years ago. She recently became unwell at home and was taken by ambulance to the A&E unit.

She was on a corridor for two hours before being taken to the A&E where staff frantically started tests.

It was discovered later that she had sepsis and she underwent treatment.

"I was with her and went home for a shower around 4pm, but at 7pm I got a call from the hospital to come in."

He described his shock as a senior nurse and doctor broke the news of her death.

"They said: 'I am so sorry your mother has passed away.' I fell. It was like slow motion."

The following hours were extremely distressing as A&E staff could not find a room in which to place his mother's body.

"The noise of the place was awful," he said.

They eventually got a little room but space was so tight that every time someone opened the door it banged the bed where his mother was lying.

"I just had to step out. It was incredible.

"I remember a nurse saying she was so sorry. She told me to be reassured that my mother was not alone when she died. She held her hand."

Mr Crowley said he was angry at the system, not the kind staff.

"I will never forgive the system for being like that," he said. "People deserve a service so much better." He spoke of how he misses his mother, who was his "best friend".

The harrowing experience comes in a week when the number of patients on trolleys reached a record his this week with 679 people waiting for a bed.

A spokesperson for Cork University Hospital said: "Cork University Hospital does not comment on individual patient cases."

Revised figures from the Central Statistics Office yesterday showed of the 30,000 people who die annually, four in 10 will pass away in hospital.

The Irish Hospice Foundation expressed concern that just 23pc die at home in their own familiar surroundings.

Irish Independent

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