It’s often been said that Ireland is one of the worst places to get sick, and APRIL DREW can attest to that fact thanks to first hand experience.
Since our return to Ireland last May life in Ireland has been good to our family. I’ve not complained about much. We have everything we want and we remain positive when friends in the U.S. ask us how we could live in an Ireland steeped in a recession because they certainly couldn’t.
We had nothing negative to say about our own experience and that’s the truth …until now that is.
It has finally happened. We came face to face (indirectly) with the Irish medical system, and yes, it’s as bad as they say it is. It’s an utter disgrace, and I’m here to tell you what we saw first-hand. It wasn’t pretty.
My husband John’s mother made a recent trip to the emergency room at the, about a ten-minute drive from her home. It turned out it wasn’t a serious issue but she needed tending to immediately.
She arrived at the reception area of the emergency department at 6:10 p.m. on a Wednesday evening. Like any emergency room at that time of the day it was manic.
Seats were full. Patients and their loved ones stood along corridors, sat on floors and paced back and forth in an effort not to go insane. Parents and children, people of pensionable age and many more middle aged folks all looked sickly and irritated.
A young lady who appeared to be in her late twenties told my mother-in-law she had been there three hours and still hadn’t been seen to by a nurse.
“You’re in for a long night,” Mary was told. She had no idea.
After a few minutes of standing, a young man with a gentle face took pity on Mary and gave her his seat. She sat patiently and waited her turn.
It was close to 10 p.m. before a nurse came to take her vitals and carry out some blood work. The nurse advised her yet again that it was going to be a long night.
Midnight struck, and by this stage everyone was tired, cranky and hungry. Mary was finally admitted into the emergency room, and what she saw before her was shocking.
Beds full with patients, some in a very sickly way, took over the floor space. It wasn’t designed for this. Getting to the nurse’s station inside the department felt like one was walking through an obstacle course.
There were beds all over the place. It was utter mayhem. When they ran out of beds, patients (depending on the severity of their medical problem) sat on plastic chairs propped up against walls throughout the department.
Mary was directed to a chair for the following four hours. By this stage she was extremely tired and a little weak. She watched as some unruly characters entered the emergency room with various ailments, some causing quite a stir.
In the end the only reason she got a bed (about 4:30 a.m.) in the emergency room was because she took a weakness and fainted.
At one point during the night she needed to use the bathroom. She was told there was a queue forming and it was best she went outside to the main hospital and used the public toilets. She barely had the energy to get off the bed.
We sat with Mary as she tried to close her eyes to get some sleep. I was disgusted by what I was seeing.
The nurses were running around trying to keep up with patients being admitted and others being discharged. At one point a young fella entered the emergency room via ambulance with what looked like a screwdriver stuck in his head. It wasn’t a pretty sight, and we didn’t ask what kind of altercation he was in before arriving to the hospital.
Not only were the doctors and nurses trying to do their job, but they had to deal with scantily clad girls fighting with each other. A mother sitting across from us attempted to shelter her two-year-old son from such carry on.
It was disgraceful and kind of intimidating too. It was hard to know what would happen next.
When dawn crept in it was made clear to Mary that she would be admitted to the hospital for further tests, but she was warned it would be a while before a bed became available upstairs. Mary worked in that same hospital for 26 years as a secretary and retired three years ago.
It didn’t matter though. There simply wasn’t a bed available for her. The hospital was as overrun as the emergency room.
As I sat with Mary early on the Friday morning I pulled out my laptop and began writing what I saw around me. In the emergency room there were approximately eight bays where patients were put when admitted. All eight bays were full.
There was another 15 or so patients sitting on chairs and 12 or so beds scattered across the moderately sized room. It was simply a case of wherever they could shove in a bed they did.