Sunday 17 November 2019

'You'd think Ireland is a developing country, based on our A&Es'

Sheila Malone (86) was forced to wait in a chair for 16 hours in the Beaumont emergency department last month after presenting with severe chest pains and vomiting.
Sheila Malone (86) was forced to wait in a chair for 16 hours in the Beaumont emergency department last month after presenting with severe chest pains and vomiting.

Louise Kelly and Sam Griffin

THE son of an 86-year-old woman who was forced to spend 16 hours in a chair at an Emergency Department has described his mother's treatment as "horrific" and said the conditions in Beaumont Hospital were comparable to that of a third world country.

Pensioner Sheila Malone was taken by ambulance to the hospital from her nearby home on December 10, after she began suffering severe chest pains and vomiting.

Her son, Joey, said she was forced to sit in an "uncomfortable wooden chair" with just a blanket and a pillow from around 11am until 3am, when she was finally given a bed.

"For me, watching a woman of her age to have to put up with this in the twilight of her life is not only disgraceful - it was upsetting," Mr Malone said.

"She has raised a family of five and double-jobbed to support us.

"To see her come through all that and end up like that in hospital is awful."

His partner, Marie, said the situation was so bleak inside the Emergency Department that there was no confidence among patients that they would be properly cared for.

"You're there at a time when you're at your most vulnerable anyway. That extra fear of 'will they forget about me when they leave my chair?' is not acceptable, especially for the elderly."

Mrs Malone was diagnosed with a chest infection and prescribed medication, including steroids, and discharged the following day. Joey said it took more than a week for his mother to fully recover from the experience.

"It took over a week to get the tiredness out of her because she'd normally got to bed at 9pm or 9.30pm. To be up until that hour of the morning trying to sleep was impossible," he told the Irish Independent.

"For a woman of 86 years of age to be left like that in this day and age was ridiculous.

"The nurses and doctors are certainly overworked and understaffed but they're trying to do their best. But the nurses that saw my mother wouldn't see her again for hours later. They're all working flat out.

"You'd think this is a developing country, looking at the A&Es around the country."

Another patient, a 30-year-old HSE worker, who did not wish to be named, described "horrendous conditions" in the same hospital when she was admitted with vision loss, heart palpitations, extreme stomach spasms and major blood loss.

She said she walked into an emergency room with a "sticky, wet and filthy floor" with bathroom facilities that were "smeared with faeces and strewn with toilet paper.

"But in all my sickness, I was crying for the other people who were waiting there, the older people at the end of their lives with no one there to even hold their hand."

She said she left the hospital with the same symptoms she arrived with and an "urgent appointment" for an internal exam in two or three weeks' time.

Irish Independent

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