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Saturday 18 November 2017

'They didn't have a wheelchair for her' - Family of paraplegic teen fears hospital move will hamper recovery

Ciara O’Brien Credit: Facebook
Ciara O’Brien Credit: Facebook

David Kearns

The family of a Cork teenager left paralysed after she fell off the roof of a nightclub are worried her recovery will suffer due to a lack of specialised facilities in Cork.

Ciara O’Brien (18) received a severe spinal injury in the fall and has been diagnosed as paraplegic.

She now requires the full time use of a wheelchair.

The teen spent two and a half weeks at the National Spinal Injuries Unit in the Mater Hospital in Dublin but on Tuesday was moved to Cork University Hospital.

Read More: Family of teen Ciara O'Brien (18) who fell from nightclub balcony describe their 'worst nightmare'

Despite the hope that being closer to home could aid her recovery, Ms O’Brien’s family have expressed fears that CUH is ill-prepared to cope with the 18-year-olds needs.

Speaking on 96fm’s Opinion Line, aunt Maria O’Mahony told the Cork radio station that when the teen arrived, there was no bed or wheelchair available, nor was the six-bed ward properly prepared to receive her.

Ciara O’Brien Credit: Facebook
Ciara O’Brien Credit: Facebook

“When she arrived there wasn’t a bed for her. She had to wait for a poor man who was in a bed who had to be taken out of a bed just for her to get in,” said Ms O’Mahony.

“They had to make a request for a wheelchair. There wasn’t a wheelchair there for her.”

Ms O’Mahony said her niece could not even brush her teeth the first night in CUH because she was unable to get from her bed to the room’s shared sink.

Ms O’Brien, who only completed her Leaving Certificate at Kinsale Community College earlier in the summer, was in a restricted area on a flat roof at The Moorings nightclub in Kinsale when she fell and sustained spinal injuries.

“They should have had a plan… Ciara has serious injuries and they just weren’t geared or set up for receiving Ciara into the hospital.

“True, the staff were fabulous [and] it’s none of their fault… they are just completely understaffed.

“One of the nurses last night had 12 patients and Ciara was one of them.

“She couldn’t even clean her teeth because they didn’t have a wheelchair to bring her across the room to the sink.”

Read More: Ciara O'Brien ‘in shock’ at news she might never walk again after nightclub balcony fall

The concerned aunt said the family are afraid the lack of facilities in CUH will have an adverse effect on Ms O’Brien and will set her recovery back “completely, physically and psychologically”.

“She needs ongoing care from medical professionals used to dealing with people who have sustained spinal injuries if she is to be ready for her transfer to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire.

“It’s very difficult for an 18-year-old girl to be transferred from the place that she’d been in to this,” Ms O’Mahony added.

“It was so heartbreaking leaving her.”

A spokesperson from the HSE said the organisation does not comment on individual cases, meanwhile CUH told that "[The hositpal] was an exceptionally busy hospital with approximately 80 emergency admissions daily.

"Yesterday we were waiting on 11 ambulances to transfer patients to other facilities and this unfortunately caused a one-hour delay for a patient to secure their bed.

"CUH management is available to discuss any issues that a patient or family has with its services and will liaise directly with the concerned patient and family members."

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