ASSESSMENT UNIT The new Acute Covid Assessment Unit (ACAU) is not physically linked to the Mayo University Hospital.
A woman in her 70s who had to be brought outside Mayo University Hospital in freezing temperatures in the middle of the night for a scan has recounted her experience.
The woman, who does not wish to be named, has also written to the HSE to complain about her experience at the end of December.
She recalls how she had to be brought out from the hospital’s new modular Covid-19 emergency department in the ‘cold and rain’ in the middle of the night to receive an X-ray in the radiology department because there is no corridor connecting the new modular building with the main hospital building.
She was subsequently admitted and put in a male ward with five men in her ward, which left her feeling ‘very upset and very uncomfortable’.
The woman said she felt unwell on Christmas Eve and was sent for a Covid-19 test in MacHale Park, Castlebar. On Christmas Day she was told she had tested negative.
She still felt unwell on Tuesday, December 29, and her doctor sent her to Mayo University Hospital. She said that when she was seen, two hours after she arrived, she was told she could not wait in casualty, as she had ‘all the symptoms of Covid-19’.
She waited outside with her son in a car until she was called back in at 7.30pm. She said she finally was tested for Covid-19 after 10pm and the results came back negative at around midnight.
Then, it was decided the woman needed to undergo scans in the main hospital building. On the night in question, the weather conditions were freezing in Castlebar.
“At 1.30am (a) porter took me across to the main hospital to get an X-ray, afterwards returning to the Covid-19 cabin, it was very wet and cold having to go outside between the two buildings. At 2.30am I was brought back to the main hospital to be admitted, again in the cold and rain,” she recalled.
“I was put in a male-only ward with five men, at this point I was very upset and very uncomfortable. I felt very uncomfortable and couldn’t use the toilet on the ward being the only woman, so had to use the public toilet down the corridor.
“The following morning I had a scan done, which came back all clear, so the doctor wanted to run a few more tests but didn’t know when they would happen and it might be the following day or the day after. I just couldn’t take it being there any longer, I was unwell, wrecked, upset, and uncomfortable. I just wanted to go home.
“I know it’s not the staff’s fault and nor am I blaming them, they were doing their best. The situation at the hospital at the minute is ridiculous. They have had nine months to put a proper procedure in place and they have failed that on every level,” she said.
Modular unit concerns
Cllr Michael Kilcoyne (Ind) criticised the treatment that the woman received.
“What this woman had to endure is just not good enough. Being brought out in the cold and rain like that is terrible, and then, after that, to be placed in a male ward made a bad situation worse.”
He went on to focus on the modular unit, which is located beside the existing Emergency Department and forces patients to go outside in order to be brought to the main hospital building.
“Unfortunately, I could have predicted the issue with the modular unit. There is no corridor connecting the modular unit with the rest of the hospital. I raised this as a concern months ago but I was told it would not be an issue. They don’t seem to think there’s snow and rain and frost in the west of Ireland. If they cannot manage a simple thing like that, how are they meant to manage Covid?” he asked.
Responding to questions, a spokesperson for Saolta, the hospital group with responsibility for Mayo University Hospital, issued the following statement:
“The new Acute Covid Assessment Unit (ACAU) is not physically linked to the hospital. Patients moving from the ACAU to the main hospital must go outside for a distance of 20 metres approximately. There is a portable X-ray in the ACAU; only patients requiring CT scans or more complex investigations go to the main Radiology Department in the hospital, and this is explained to patients as the need arises.
“Patients, their families or staff who have any questions or concerns are as always encouraged to use the feedback processes in place in the hospital and/or contact the general manager’s office directly.”