Tale of pensioner’s treatment shocking
I have written before about elder abuse, but I have become aware of a situation which really alarms me.
This did not occur in the Wellington region. My experience here has been that the elderly are treated with the degree of care they need, regardless of their age or infirmity.
An elderly lady, a sprightly 80, was admitted to a public hospital for bowel surgery for cancer and the operation resulted in a hernia. When she approached her surgeon to have this fixed, he told her, in so many words, that because of her age and the fact that she was ‘‘no longer productive in society’’, she couldn’t have the operation in the public hospital but he would perform the surgery if she paid.
This lady was a superannuitant, so where was she to obtain the thousands required for private surgery? Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately given the sequel, a local charity gave the money, and the surgery was duly performed.
She was discharged from the private hospital only a few hours after coming round from the anaesthetic. A few days later, she was struck with acute abdominal pain, fever, and faecal vomiting (a sure sign of bowel problems) and was admitted to the A&E.
The people there were going to leave her untreated, until her niece, who worked in the area, did some jumping up and down. A CT scan showed that the surgeon had stitched her bowel closed, causing a complete obstruction. A second surgeon took her to theatre and undid the botched surgery.
When the family complained to the DHB, that august body upheld the surgeon’s stance, saying, in effect, ‘‘if you are young and working, you are entitled to surgery in a public hospital’’, but if you are old, forget it!
If you are shocked by this incident, you are not alone. For me, the most alarming aspect is the emerging evidence of the attitude of that particular DHB. Once you are on superannuation, you are obviously viewed as superfluous to requirements, so you can be left to suffer.
To say that this lady was no longer ‘‘productive’’ in society fails to take into consideration her contribution to the voluntary sector on many fronts. But even if she were unable to ‘‘contribute’’ in this fashion, because of advancing years or illness, surely her past contribution would entitle her to whatever medical assistance she might require.
We are back in business this month and are preparing a good sequence of speakers. This time we are being joined by the longterm advocate for lower power prices for domestic consumers, Molly Melhuish.
Date: Tuesday, February 12. Time: 1.30pm. Venue: The Porirua Club, Lodge Place, Porirua. Contact: Helen Griffith Phone 236 0112.