Beyond a crisis | 

Dying woman had to leave Roscommon Hospital bed for trolley in Portiuncula amid A&E crisis

‘She was in a situation where she had to leave a bed and go to a trolley. It was crazy’

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

A gravely ill OAP had to leave her bed in Roscommon Hospital for a trolley in Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe because of the lack of local facilities.

Mary Hughes (76) later passed away at Ballinasloe after waiting over seven hours for a bed before being admitted to a ward.

Sunday World journalist Edel Hughes said that even though her mother had lived close to Roscommon Hospital she had been transferred from there after suffering a seizure as the facility was unable to treat her due to a lack of services.

During a week of severe overcrowding with high trolley numbers in hospitals right across the country Edel told Shannonside FM that Stephen Donnelly must visit both Roscommon and Portiuncula to ensure changes are made to the healthcare system.

“We need an A&E in Roscommon,” Edel said. “People will say it's impossible and can't be done. But it was impossible to have private hospitals open to public patients until there was a crisis.

“And this is beyond a crisis. The facility itself, as in the bricks and mortar, are there in Roscommon. But obviously you need the staff, the correct ratios and you need incentives for staff to go there.

Edel wants Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to see the situation for himself

“Roscommon is one of the cheaper places to live in the country but the HSE needs to offer bonuses for people to move there. Stephen only needs to go to Roscommon and Ballinasloe and see for himself the conditions there.”

She added: “And centralised care is not working. It's not working in Ballinasloe and it's not working in the Midwest. As we saw, there are absolutely horrific conditions in UHL and now there is a possibility of Navan Hospital being downgraded which will put more pressure on Drogheda.

“That will not work either. If any lessons can be learned from the downgrading of Roscommon and Nenagh then it's that it isn't working.”

Edel described her mam as a “fantastic lady” who was “kind, friendly and could make friends with anybody in any situation”.

“She had some issues in the last few years, in particular her mobility was really bad, but her mental faculties were fine. She was very sharp and kept herself engaged in what was going on in the world or what was going on in the neighbourhood.”

However, at the start of December 2022, her mam was admitted to Roscommon Hospital.

“There was no real resolution as to why she had become ill,” Edel said.

“She went from being reasonably very clued in to what was going on in the world and what was going on around her to being extremely drowsy and fatigued and tired all the time.”

Earlier this week Edel’s mum had to be transferred to Portiuncula hospital after she suffered another bad seizure.

“She had two major seizures before but thankfully she came out of those. She hadn't suffered one since June 2021 but something occurred that caused this seizure and she had to be rushed to Portiuncula, even though she was already in Roscommon.

“She was in a situation where she had to leave a bed and go to a trolley. It was crazy.

“I'm very used to Portiuncula and I’ve been there tons of times. My father suffered a lot of chronic illness so I was in there with him. And then with my mam in recent years. I know my way around quite well.

“I was looking around (for her), thinking she might be behind a curtain because sometimes they put vulnerable people behind a curtain to give them a little privacy and space.

“And then some people who are maybe a bit less vulnerable might be on the trolleys but I didn't see her behind the curtains or on any of the trolleys. So I kept walking along until I found one of the nurses who took me down to the back.

“I didn't even realise where we were but we were actually in the resuscitation room. It was the only space where they could keep her. She was highly distressed at that point. There had been a drop off in her blood pressure so they were just really just trying to stabilise her.

“But she really wasn't well. Her breathing was very laboured and I could tell she was in distress. They were just trying to put her somewhere safe, somewhere that it wouldn't cause distress to her or other patients.

“But it's not where she should have been. Obviously when I saw her my fear was that she was going to pass away downstairs on a trolley in the resuscitation room, in horrible circumstances.

“The nurses and the nurse manager in A&E were great, they were trying to stabilise her and give her some medication for the pain. Thankfully then the consultant came on duty and he was fantastic.

“He said he would continue to give her fluids while also being very realistic about her chances and being very honest.

“The nurses were trying really hard to find her a bed upstairs and after a couple of hours they did finally get her a bed.”

Edel added that “in the worst circumstance” her mam would have passed away while still on a trolley.

“I was just very scared for her in that moment, because I arrived at the time when she was distressed and I was like, ‘oh no she could pass away at any time’.

“For me the ideal situation would have been for her to get to a comfortable bed and have pain relief.”

Edel said that there now needs to be a change.

“When my man suffered her first seizure in 2021 she had been living right across the road from Roscommon Hospital but she couldn't be admitted.

“It wouldn't be safe obviously as they don't have the doctors and the staff. But it’s insane that she had to undergo that journey while she was unresponsive. And as any medical professional will tell you, if somebody is unresponsive, that's a critical situation.

“The (patient) needs to be in the hospital as soon as possible with doctors and nurses and a team who can help.”

Edel is hoping that by speaking out that maybe it will help another hospitals like Navan or maybe something can be done about Roscommon.

“I would say to the minister or anybody who may be involved in healthcare policy or in Navan, that it's been a huge mistake to downgrade Navan. And it’s been a huge mistake for Roscommon.”


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