Saturday 22 October 2016

Stroke victim 'spent 34 hours waiting for bed' in city's Mater Hospital

Sinead Donoghue was fed-up waiting and discharged herself
Sinead Donoghue was fed-up waiting and discharged herself

A young Dublin woman has spoken of how she spent 34 hours in the Mater Hospital emergency department without a bed after suffering what she described as a minor stroke.

Sinead Donoghue (23), from Donnycarney, was initially given a trolley when she was admitted on Wednesday at 8am.

However, she says that someone else was on the trolley when she came back from a visit to the toilet.

Her experience comes amid a crisis in emergency departments where nurses are preparing to walk out in protest next week.

Sinead, who suffers from epilepsy, said she was left "frightened and distressed".

"I had a stroke before so I knew the symptoms and called an ambulance straight away," she told the Herald.

"I was given a trolley initially, and later on my partner helped me get into a wheelchair so I could go to the toilet, but when I came back somebody else was on the trolley.

"That was on Wednesday evening and I was in the wheelchair all night and all day Thursday."

Sinead suffered a paralysis on the left side of her body and now cannot do anything unassisted.

"They gave me the results of the scan. I'm paralysed on one side," she said, though doctors told her she will recover.

"I can't get out of the wheelchair, I can't get to the toilet by myself and I'm unable to lift my legs or my left arm.

"I'm still in the same clothes I was in yesterday because I can't get changed.

"I was too embarrassed to ask a nurse to change me.

"It was very frightening and tiring."

Sinead decided to discharge herself after waiting 34 hours for a bed. She said she has had to rent a wheelchair from the Irish Wheelchair Association."

The experience, she said, had allowed her to see first-hand that the health system is in crisis.

"It's not getting better. It's a very frightening place to be if you're unwell," she said.

"I had a minor stroke and I was in a wheelchair for a day-and-a-half, it's a disgrace."

A spokesman for the Mater Hospital said they do not comment on individual cases.


"The Mater Hospital and its staff endeavour at all times to treat patients who are admitted to its emergency department with the highest possible standard of care and compassion," the spokesman said, adding that the hospital admits patients "based on their clinical need".

"The Mater Hospital does not comment on individual patient cases, but does assess all complaints brought to its attention and will do so in this instance."

According to figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), 20 patients were on trolleys at the Mater on Wednesday and yesterday.

Nurses have said they will walk out of seven emergency departments (EDs) next Tuesday in protest at overcrowding following a breakdown in talks with the HSE.

INMO deputy general secretary David Hughes said they have "no choice" but to strike due to the "chaos" in emergency departments.

The strike action will take place on Tuesday at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin and Cork's Mercy Hospital from 8am to 10pm.

This will be followed by strikes in Tallaght Hospital and Cavan General from 10am to noon.

The strike will be confined to emergency departments, and other sections of the hospitals will function as normal.

INMO noted that nurses in all locations will be on standby in the event of a major emergency.

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