In Praise Of A&E

NZ Today - - TALKBACK -

There is so much crit­i­cism lev­elled at the coun­try’s health sys­tem I thought I would tell you a pos­i­tive story.

My lit­tle girl broke her arm on Satur­day night at a roller skat­ing party. Of course, I didn’t know it was bro­ken un­til we spent sev­eral hours at Hutt Hospi­tal’s A&E depart­ment.

I have never taken my daugh­ter to A&E be­fore (how lucky am I and let me tell you, I am knock­ing on a lot of wood at this mo­ment). It was a Satur­day night and I was ex­pect­ing the worst.

It was crowded and it took around half an hour to get through the triage sec­tion, but the nurses and sup­port staff couldn’t have been kinder, gen­tler and more com­pas­sion­ate to Melinda, who was un­der­stand­ably in pain and in a bit of a state.

As we trans­ferred to the main wait­ing area we both no­ticed a large no­tice on the wall in front of us: “We en­deav­our to see pa­tients within six hours”. “Six hours?!” we ex­claimed in uni­son. I hes­i­tat­ingly went up to the counter to en­quire whether we would be there un­til 2 am, which was six hours from the time we ar­rived.

“Not at all”, said the lovely nurse, “it should be much quicker”. Phew I thought.

Af­ter about an hour in the main wait­ing room we were trans­ferred to the re­cently ren­o­vated chil­dren’s wait­ing area, re­plete with a chil­dren’s video play­ing and a train set mov­ing around the walls just be­low the ceil­ing. Ab­so­lutely ter­rific and calm­ing for sick munchkins.

Melinda was seen by a se­nior nurse who in­stantly sus­pected a bro­ken el­bow and ush­ered us into the x-ray room. Again, the ra­dio­g­ra­phers were kind and pa­tient, in spite of Melinda be­ing re­luc­tant to move her arm and still be­ing in a lot of pain.

The se­nior nurse greeted us out­side and con­firmed the break and promptly put a cast on Melinda’s arm. She gave Melinda some sort of pain killer to re­lax her be­fore the very painful part of set­ting her arm. It is so hard to hear your lit­tle child scream, as I am sure all par­ents will know, but the at­tend­ing nurses re­ally kept ev­ery­one calm and their ef­fi­ciency was com­mend­able. Three hours from start to fin­ish and we were out of there. It must be a tough lot be­ing an emer­gency depart­ment nurse or doc­tor and we need to com­mend them for the amaz­ing jobs they do in of­ten very try­ing cir­cum­stances.

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