AN AMERICAN couple have expressed their gratitude for the care they received at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital during an unexpected visit to Limerick.
Michael and Dale Synder, from Encinitas, California, were on a transatlantic flight in April when Dale suddenly took ill.
With Shannon the designated airport for emergency medical diversions over the north Atlantic, patients who have become ill on board are a regular enough sight at Limerick’s main acute hospital.
Such was the quality of care that Dale received in the emergency department and high dependency unit that his husband Michael was moved to write a letter of gratitude to John Hennessy, regional director of operations for the HSE West.
“We would like to thank your doctors, nurses and entire staff for the wonderful care my husband Dale Snyder received at the Mid Western Regional Hospital, Limerick. A very professional, kind and efficient EMS crew brought us to your emergency centre the evening of April 26, 2013 from a British Airways flight that was diverted to Shannon. Dale had a bleeding ulcer and had lost a large amount of blood. Almost immediately he received four units of beautiful Irish blood and expert care that kept him going,” said Michael.
“We know only a few names of those who cared for both of us while Dale was in the hospital, but we hope our appreciation can be passed along to all. In the emergency area there were two wonderful nurses, one of whom was Katherine. She reassured me and kept me informed. The two emergency receptionists - there was a shift change - were so helpful even though they were extremely busy - as were all the staff. A gentleman named William called six or more hotels to find a room for me. It was a popular weekend in Limerick. He found the very last room at The George Boutique Hotel. I was very relieved to have somewhere to go.
“When Dale was moved into the high dependency unit, the nurse, Eleanor, explained carefully what would be happening going forward and even called a taxi for me. The next day, Dale’s nurse in HDU, Seana, was a joy. She was kind, cheerful, efficient and genuinely concerned for my welfare while she cared for Dale. The doctors who treated Dale were exceptional! The lead physician, Mr. Tarig Abdelhafiz was straightforward, kind, informative and accessible. He immediately came to tell me the results of Dale’s first endoscopy and reassure me that Dale was responding well to treatment. We owe thanks to Mr Tarig’s entire team, but Patrick is the only other name we have.”
“Absolutely every staff member we met was kind and helpful, right down to the nurse who insisted we could not leave on Monday evening until we had tea and sandwiches. We declined but she brought it anyway and we enjoyed it so much. Just what we needed,” wrote Michael.
Shannon Airport typically handles two to three medical or technical diversions every month, with problems with aircraft the more common reason for emergency landings.
Being thus designated requires the airport to remain in a constant state of readiness, with emergency services on standby on a 24-7 basis.
These requirements are estimated to cost the airport in the region of €2 million annually and the government task force report that set Shannon on the road to independence last year recommended that these costs should be kept under review by the new management regime.
But to one American couple at least, the service is priceless.
“We were told by airline staff that Shannon Airport receives frequent emergency diversions so that ill passengers can be taken to the Mid-Western Regional Limerick,” Michael wrote to Mr Hennessy.
“This seems to us a great policy, as passengers receive excellent care and personal treatment in spite of the hospital being extremely busy. Dale was close to death, but with the help of everyone from the British Airways crew, the doctors on board our flight, the EMS responders, to Mid-Western Regional Hospital Limerick’s doctors, nurses and staff, he survived. He is recuperating at home in California and our entire family is forever grateful!”