Limerick woman, 82, writes powerful letter of her experience as patient at ‘bomb site’ UHL

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

Limerick woman, 82, writes powerful letter of her experience as patient at ‘bomb site’ UHL

Mary Moore wrote that she felt like crying three days in a row during her time in UHL

A “DISTRAUGHT” pensioner has said she wished Minister for Health Simon Harris visited her ward at University Hospital Limerick, as she “felt like crying for three days in a row” during her treatment.

Mary Moore, 82, from Boher, was admitted to Ward 3C at UHL on August 12 with a chest infection and was discharged on August 21, the same day Minister Harris carried out an unannounced snap inspection at the hospital. 

At the time of her treatment, a strict visitors restriction was imposed on her ward due to an outbreak of a stomach bug.

After her treatment, Ms Moore penned a letter to her family because she was “so annoyed and so distraught” when she came home, she told the Leader.

The letter was entitled “The Forgotten Patient”. 

Among a number of complaints in her six-page, handwritten letter, she said a porter left her “abandoned” in a wheelchair for three and a half hours in the wrong clinic when she was due an appointment.

“Three and a half hours later I was told I was in the wrong clinic. Frozen cold, hungry, dying to go to the bathroom. No one from ward 3C had looked for me or checked up on me. I had missed out on dinner. They asked me who was with me and I said no one had told them I was left there by the porter,” she wrote. 

“He said he was on his own and had others to collect and he left my chart on the counter and went off. Next morning went exactly the same except after three and a half hours the doctor finally got to check my notes.  That was two days in a row I was left abandoned and neglected. Next day there was worse to come.”

She said after her doctor said that she could continue her treatment at home, two “helpers” arrived into the room and started to place her clothes from her locker into two blue bags. 

“I asked her what she was doing and she said, packing your things, I was raging. I was only told I could go home. I had lovely clean washing all folded and one bag of washing and all dumped in the plastic bags. I asked her who gave her permission and she said she was only doing what she was told,” she said. 

She said that no nurse “once again came to check up on me” and that she “wasn’t mobile and needed help”.

She said she was sitting in her chair when two cleaners arrived and “started to tear the place asunder”.

“They had opened all doors, drawers, upended mattresses and beds and the air was suffocating with chemicals, and me with a bad chest.

“They pushed my chair a bit out of the way. The porter came up with the suppers and didn’t know I was there so no supper, he went again. The other woman was taken off to another room – lucky her,” she said. 

She said that she then ended up in a corridor for an hour, and was “pushed out there, out of the way by the cleaners”. 

“My daughter in law was shocked at the conditions I was in. I had to dress in the corridor. I was told I had to have a bandage on my leg before I left. One hour later the nurse had been to her supper while I was sitting in the hall with my blue plastic bags.”

On that day, Minister for Health Simon Harris paid a surprise visit to staff at UHL, and inspected the busy emergency department and the site of the 60-bed block.

“I was told Simon Harris was in the building. I wish he had come up to ward 3C. It was like a bomb site and me thrown on the scrap heap and feeling so dusty and dirty and tired and felt like crying three days in a row.”

She said her experience was “so miserable and depressing” as no visitors were allowed.

“The sink was encased in yellow plastic bags and no one allowed use it. It was like that for the 8 days I was in that ward.

“We had small plastic bowls half full of water to wash with.  The nurses or helpers gave a hand. One never felt really washed and afraid we would pick up ‘The Bug’.”

She thanked the doctors for her treatment.

A spokesperson for the UL Hospitals Group said in response to receiving the letter: “For reasons of patient confidentiality, UL Hospitals Group cannot discuss or comment on individual cases.

“We regret that any patient has a poor experience and we would ask in the first instance that patients would raise any concerns or anxieties directly with the staff on duty. 

“Should any matter not be resolved to their satisfaction, they are encouraged to use the complaints process – Your Service Your Say – at www.hse.ie/eng/services/feedback.

“In general terms, patients with restricted mobility and those requiring help with hygiene needs, may be assisted by staff at the bedside using a bowl of warm water.”