A NORTH Nowra man who was treated at Shoalhaven District Hospital for a broken hand said he was left feeling embarrassed and ashamed over the treatment he witnessed in the Emergency Department (ED).
Barry Cumberland couldn’t believe the way the elderly and injured people were being treated.
He thinks, at times, our medical system is becoming "a tad third world".
Mr Cumberland was quick to add the ED staff “were terrific and worked under much duress”.
Mr Cumberland’s experience began on March 2 when he suffered a painful left hand injury during a local cricket match.
He attended Shoalhaven District Hospital around midday Sunday (March 3) but with the ED full and ambulances backed up he decided to visit his doctor the following day.
After being sent for an x-ray and ultrasound by his doctor on Monday, he was referred to ED for further urgent treatment.
“A doctor advised I needed urgent treatment to possibly pin my finger but no doctors were available to do it,” he said.
“I was advised I would have to go to Sydney Hand Hospital in Macquarie Street.”
He said he was taken into an area called a minor treatment room and had his hand plastered.
Mr Cumberland said inside the room was an elderly women, in a chair hooked up to a drip.
Her concerned elderly husband sat by her side.
“I asked how long she had been there and she said from 2am that morning,” he said.
“No shower, little food and told they were waiting for a bed and it was now 5pm.
“Beside her was a man still dressed in work gear nursing a clearly broken arm. He had been there since 7.30pm the previous evening.
“Still in his work gear, no shower and again very little food because of possible surgery and waiting for a bed. To that point his wait had been 22 hours.
“There was also two other men and a teenage girl also waiting for treatment with very little privacy.
“My plaster was applied sitting among them all, covered with a sheet.”
He said he was left feeling embarrassed and ashamed the system could treat the elderly and injured people in such a fashion.
“The staff were terrific and working under much duress,” he said.
“As I departed ED I noted many more patients had arrived and I was glad to be out of there.”
Shoalhaven Hospital general manager Craig Hamer apologised on behalf of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District “for not giving the patient the best experience when he visited one of our hospitals”.
“At the time, Shoalhaven Hospital was experiencing a high volume of patient presentations to the emergency department,” Mr Hamer said.
“Emergency departments always treat the most seriously ill or injured patients first.
“Our staff work incredibly hard to ensure waiting times are kept to a minimum for our patients.
“It is important to note while every effort is made to provide treatment for patients as close to home as possible, patients who require more complex or specialised care are sometimes referred to speciality hospitals.
“In this case, it was determined the patient would benefit from the world class care provided by the Sydney Hospital, which has a dedicated hand unit and is a tertiary referral centre for hand trauma, abnormalities and diseases.
“Emergency department initiatives to improve the delivery and timeliness of emergency department care are underway across the district, including the use of an escalation plan in times of increased presentations and demand.”