A 70-year-old Cork woman who spent 57 hours waiting for a bed in CUH has said she is “appalled” by what she saw in the accident and emergency department.
Patricia McCarthy (70) was admitted to Cork University Hospital’s Emergency Department on New Year’s Day, as she had a clot in her lung. She spent 57 hours waiting on a chair in a treatment “hub” in the emergency department, consisting of cubicles with plastic partitions.
Speaking on The Neil Prendeville Show on Cork's RedFM, Ms McCarthy said that she was “appalled as a Cork citizen” by what she saw while she waited more than two full days for a bed.
“I went in as a bright 70-year-old, I’m coming out an old woman out of it…. [I spent 57 hours] on the chair with my coat for a pillow. My husband got me a chair to put my legs on, [I was] on oxygen, on intravenous medication, heavy doses,” she said.
“I sat there, on oxygen, the tubes… for 57 hours, and what I witnessed, I am appalled as a Cork citizen,” she added.
Ms McCarthy described the cubicles of the emergency department hub as like “telephone boxes” with little privacy for patients sharing personal medical information, and no facilities to shower while waiting hours on end to be seen.
“I washed my body in wipes,” she said.
“If I was an animal I’d have a tag, and I’d be treated better,” she added.
She described seeing one young mother “lying on the floor in pain” without a blanket or pillow, crying and waiting for meds to kick in, while next to her, her son said ‘Mammy don’t cry, we love you’.
“It broke my heart,” said Ms McCarthy, adding that she also saw another patient clean up his own vomit to help an exhausted nurse.
“[Nurses] don’t walk, they’re running to patients… they’re running to ambulance men, they’re running from the time they start to the time they’re finished. It’s unsafe practice,” she said.
“The doctors, well it be it was New Year’s Day, [are] understaffed. They are worn out,” she added, saying that “we’re going to lose all our lovely medical staff” if they are not better treated and better paid.
Speaking to Neil Prendeville on Thursday morning, Ms McCarthy had gotten a bed in CUH, but said she had yet to speak to management of the hospital despite her requests to speak to the CEO of CUH.
She said she felt she had to come on air to speak out to the people of Cork city, and called for a public inquiry.
“I want to know why our three Ministers, we have three Ministers in Cork city, allowed this.
“As a citizen of this city, with three Ministers, [they should] hang [their] head in shame,” she said.
A spokesperson for CUH said that the hospital does not comment on individual cases.
“However, CUH is experiencing very high levels of demand for services and is currently operating at maximum capacity,” they said.
The spokesperson said that patients are “advised and encouraged to consider all other care pathways”, including pharmacies, GPs, GP out of hours services and minor injury units before presenting at the hospital.
“Regrettably while patients presenting at the hospital are experiencing long delays, urgent patients will always be prioritised for treatment and care,” they said.