Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Literally Outraged

Two nights ago my nana, aged 81, had difficulty breathing and chest tightness and was then taken to the emergency ward of a major city hospital in Melbourne at 6:20PM by my mother. My mother was thus sitting with her when a man in the emergency ward asked her for money, and she became nervous and called me. It was getting dark. I drove over and joined them. I got there at 8:30PM.

My nana wasn't admitted or treated until 3:45AM. That's over 8 hours later. That is simply not good enough. Not only isn't it acceptable, it's outrageous.

The people we morally should spend extra care looking after are the very young and the very old. They need our help. Yet we let them sit in pain for almost half a day. Disgusting.

But it doesn't end there. Let me introduce you to a young couple with a baby who'd just turned one. The young mother had worked all day 'til 8:30PM and at about 9:30 had noticed her child's eczema had flared up to horrendous proportions. It had taken over his legs and chest as an enraged, lumpy and weeping mess. She'd quickly alerted the child's father and taken them to the same emergency ward I was in at about 10:00PM. She waited until 1:30AM still without being seen to and asked again at the counter if her child would be seen to soon. The reply was: "There are people in here who've been waiting for 5 and a half hours. So add 5 and half hours to your wait time. You'll have to wait 'til 7:30AM to be seen."

When she told me what had happened I couldn't believe it. This squirming baby who was trying to be good in a difficult situation had to wait. And wait. Let alone the fact this poor mother had to be at work again the next day.

She finally left without the poor baby being seen to, and opted for going to her own GP at 8:30AM when the clinic opened. Ridiculous. In this country it's simply indefensible.

But as if that wasn't enough, I sat next to young girl (about 20 years old or so) and her boyfriend. She was curled up under a blanket, he was sitting next to her trying to console her. She had evidently fallen near a barbecue and skewered her forearm with a rusty piece of metal, now lodged 4 or 5 centimeters into her flesh. She was given two measly painkillers and told to wait it out until a doctor could see her. When was that? 2AM. She'd been there since 6PM. She had to sit there with a rusty piece of metal in her arm for hours while she waited to have it taken out and stitched up. Incomprehensible. This isn't a third world country with limited resources. The hospital isn't hundred of miles away from a city in the desert. It's Melbourne, Australia; apparently the most livable, bounteous and one of the most prosperous cities on earth.

Now, wait for the most infuriating part of all. There is an entire new wing, complete with beds, which sits in the dark, unmanned and empty because the state government has withdrawn funding from hospitals and the Health sector. All of the people in the waiting room could have been seen hours before they were if it had been staffed and stocked full of life-saving supplies. Yet it wasn't. And still isn't.

That makes me mad.

I also witnessed a homeless man come up to a bin outside the window of the emergency waiting room at about 3:00AM and fossicked through it. He pulled out a few pieces of food scraps and half consumed cigarettes, popped them in his filthy plastic bag and limped off. Reminder: This is Australia.

I'm so annoyed that so many people that night had wait, or weren't seen to at all. I'm not mad at the nurses or the doctors one bit, they were the saving grace. But I'm incensed by the needless suffering of so many in this city. It's time the government stopped building lifeless, unavailing statues and started putting money where they, and we, need it most.

Maybe then rash covered babies, suffering elderly ones and people with corroded metal rods stuck in their arms won't have to sit for hours tarrying to be helped.

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