90-year-old Cork man needed counselling over repeated traumatic experiences with overcrowded A&E

90-year-old Cork man needed counselling over repeated traumatic experiences with overcrowded A&E
Bernadette Walshe with her parents Bartholomew and Patricia Murphy

Repeated traumatic experiences in a Cork A&E has led to a 90-year-old man seeking counselling for the first time in his life.

Bartholomew Murphy, from Ballincollig, has faced a number of harrowing experiences at Cork University Hospital, which have had a huge impact on his life. 

His daughter Bernadette Walsh spoke of her family's anguish at the overcrowding crisis in Cork University Hospital in a previous Echo article back in 2019, detailing how her was left waiting on a trolley for almost 24 hours. 

She raised the issue again after he had pleaded for a bed for his wife Patricia (88) after it was feared she was having a stroke. 

Now, Bernadette said the nightmare is continuing with the health service, and the family is seeking counselling for Bartholomew. 

Bernadette Walshe with her parents Bartholomew and Patricia Murphy
Bernadette Walshe with her parents Bartholomew and Patricia Murphy

She explained that the family is currently unable to access a bed for her mother at Cork University Hospital, resulting in added stress for her father, who wants to protect his wife. 

The only space available for Patricia is in Mallow.

She emphasised that their seemingly endless negative experiences with the health system are impacting her father's mental health.

"We've had to get him counselling which he's never had to go through before. Elderly people are never asked how they are feeling," said Bernadette.

Bartholomew has been trying hard to protect his wife from the hardship.

"The emotional effects on my father has been a huge worry. Here he is, 90 years old and trying to be my mum's protector. 

"The most important thing we have is our mental health. We see old people lying on trolleys and they look so lost. 

"Many look like a shell of themselves, but we forget that inside this shell they are still suffering."

Patients on trolleys at Cork University Hospital.
Patients on trolleys at Cork University Hospital.

The health system has been a constant source of worry for the couple.

"He is petrified of what is going to happen next. Elderly people are being spoken over and getting no respect. It's like they don't exist."

She revealed that Bartholomew's love for his wife keeps him going.

"What they have is pure love. They are still holding hands and praying together every night. 

"He wants to be her carer. Just watching them together is a lesson in love."

The grandmother said she is willing to picket outside the Dáil to put an end to the madness.

"The elderly are the people who built this country. They have a right to respect and dignity. I can't fault the care but the system itself is third world." 

"The Titanic is going down and all they're doing is rearranging the deck chairs. However, it's the people who are going to end up drowning. 

"We need to challenge the politicians before they get into power and a government is formed. I am a grandmother looking after my own mother. 

"At this stage in my life, I have nothing to lose. I'll go picket outside the Dáil if I have to. Mum has told me that she's afraid and I have promised to be her voice."

Bernadette, whose home is in West Cork, has dedicated much of her time to looking after her parents.

"I promised my mum that I wouldn't put her in a home. I've given up to be with them."

Patricia also commented on their situation as she waited for a bed.

"We have made life what it is today," Patricia said of the elderly. 

"If I was strong enough I'd go marching."


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