Patient spends five days on hospital trolley

Sinead Kelleher

A Ballybunion woman who has spent five days and nights on a trolley at University Hospital Kerry this week has hit out at the health service saying that there is "no privacy or dignity" for patients.

Debbie Egan from Ballybunion arrived in Accident and Emergency on Thursday morning around 10am suffering from chest pains. It was decided that she should remain in hospital for what a suspected heart condition. She also has an inoperable tumour which is being monitored.

She was put on a trolley in the hallway of the emergency department and remained there until Tuesday - a full five days later and more than 100 hours lying in a corridor of A&E. 

"It was a nightmare. No words can describe it," she told The Kerryman this week.   Debbie was told that she would need an MRI, an Echo Scan and a Stress Test - none of which she received on Friday, Saturday or Sunday while she waited on a trolley.

"It is a joke. I am still in the main hallway and its Monday," she said from her trolley on Monday evening. She did get some of the necessary tests on Monday. This was after she refused a request to undergo a test in the corridor, where she has been lying in full view.

She said that the situation at the hospital is "ridiculous". 

"It is absolutely disgraceful. There is no privacy and dignity in here."  Debbie and her partner, John, said they would have felt safer at home than in the hospital, such was the shortage of staff.

"The nurses are under-staffed and under immense pressure. People should feel safe in hospitals as there is medical care on hand but that is not how I felt. I couldn't get any help on Saturday when I needed it. There is no call button on a trolley. I would have felt safer at home," Debbie said.  

Debbie and her partner, John, complained to hospital management on Monday following their ordeal.  Meanwhile, a Killorglin woman who also spent the weekend at University Hospital Kerry, said what she experienced was "unbelievable"  She arrived at the hospital in the early hours of Sunday morning with her 88-year-old mother. She was luckier than others as she was on a trolley in a cubicle but she did not receive a bed in a ward until Monday. She said that the hospital was seriously understaffed with nobody available to assist her mother to the bathroom.

Two ambulance drivers, who were delivering a patient, came to her aid.

"It was a nightmare over there. The staff are worked off their feet," said the woman who did not wish to be identified.

Figures from the INMO this week showed that on Monday there was 28 people on trolleys in UHK - one of the highest the hospital has seen.  The highest ever number recorded was 35 on February 14. On March 13 there were also 28 people on trolleys.   As The Kerryman went to print on Tuesday evening, the HSE had yet to comment on the current situation.

Cllr Damian Quigg said this week that the situation at the hospital had reached a "crisis" point.  He and other councillors from the Southern Regional Health Forum are to meet with Health Minister Simon Harris to discuss a host of issues and he is seeking this meeting with the Minister as soon as possible. He says that one of the reasons for the current issues at University Hospital Kerry is the lack of a primary care centre in Mid Kerry.