Widow of man who died on trolley joins hospital protest

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Marie McMahon (centre) at the protest outside University Hospital Limerick last Thursday.

WHEN the late Thomas Wynne’s daughter, Cara, wrote to the University Hospital Limerick for answers to questions about her father’s death in the ED of the hospital after 36 hours on a trolley, the reply asked her to get her father’s signature to approve release of the information.

“How can you have faith in a system like that?,” his widow, Marie McMahon asked the Limerick post.

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She joined the newly formed Mid West Hospitals Campaign organised the protest outside the Dooradoyle hospital on Thursday.

The group wants more investment in the hospital services, better recruitment and the re-opening of facilities at Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s Hospitals to ease the pressure on the emergency department at UHL.

Last April, Thomas ‘Tommy’ Wynne was admitted to the hospital and spent 36 hours on a trolley. He eventually died in the emergency department without being allocated a hospital bed.

“I go back there (to the ED) a lot because it’s the last place I saw him alive. Maybe I’m just torturing myself,” said Marie.

“We got a report of an investigation carried out by the hospital and afterwards we still had questions so we had a meeting with them. Even the minutes of that meeting were wrong when we received them. Later, when we received Tommy’s file, it contradicted what we had been told in the meeting and what was in the report.

“We have no confidence whatever in this system and continuing to deal with it won’t bring Tommy back. For our own mental health we felt that we should put our energies into campaigning to tackle the problem,” she told the Limerick Post.

“ON the day Tommy was admitted I told them he was having symptoms of mini-strokes and was in danger. I asked to see a doctor and was told somebody would be with us soon. This was at 10pm and we had already been waiting since 1:30pm. We waited until the following morning at 03:15am,” she said.

“I had to leave him at around 7pm as he was getting so distressed. He said if I did come back he was coming home with me and said not to come back until morning.

“I reluctantly kissed him goodbye and left him tired, confused and upset. I thought I was doing the right thing”.

At 10:55pm that night, Tommy was found unresponsive on that same trolley.

“I hate to think of his last few hours alive. It was cruel, inhumane and barbaric. No human being should ever have to go through that,” Marie added.

Marie agreed that Tommy had been moved to a resuscitation cubicle but attempts to save his life were not successful.

“We don’t have answers. There are inconsistencies about Tommy’s treatment and death everywhere.

“Every time we wrote to the hospital management, we got a reply from a different person. We had lost him – I was a social worker in a previous life, and you would expect int he circumstances that one person would be allocated to deal with questions from a greieb=ving family.

“We were two months short of 40 years married. I still get hugely upset when I think about how his life ended in that place.”

In a statement, the hospital management said that a complaint into Mr Wynne’s care has been investigated by UL Hospitals Group and a report issued to the family.

“We have apologised to Mr Wynne’s loved ones for the length of the wait time in the emergency department and for poor communication during his care. For reasons of patient confidentiality, it would be inappropriate to comment further on this matter.

“UL Hospitals Group has been dealing directly with the family on their concerns. We would like to express our sympathies to Mr Wynne’s family on their great loss,” the statement continued.

“The emergency department at University Hospital Limerick is one of the busiest in the country and has been experiencing high numbers of presentations over recent days and weeks, including a significant number of frail, elderly patients.