“THE DOGS on the street know it’s a disaster,” one Limerick man commented as he walked in Saturday’s hospital protest march beside dog-owner Alan Rice from Janesboro and his two Old English Sheepdog pals, Reuben and Stitch.
On Monday of this week, the two delightful doggies had a much better chance of seeing a vet than anyone in Limerick had of seeing a doctor while in a bed at University Hospital Limerick where 77 people were waiting on trolleys.
Alan told the Limerick Post he came out for the march “because it’s not good enough”.
“The health service and the hospital affect every single one of us, whether personally or through members of our family, and right now people are afraid to go to hospital. That’s a disgrace.”
Cobhla (7) and Seoidin (4) Nelson from Corbally were out too in their doctors’ scrubs with their dad, Gerry, carrying a sign that read “look after the people who look after all of us”.
“This is the third march in Limerick alone but nothing has changed. People need to be able to rely on the hospital service and the staff who work there deserve support,” Gerry said.
Five-year old Mia Farrell from Meanus was pushed in the march in her wheelchair by her mother Sarah. The mother and daughter pair know all about the shortcomings of the health service.
“You never want your child to be sick but I pray that Mia doesn’t get sick because I’ll drive her to Temple Street rather than ever again bringing her to UHL,” she told the Limerick Post.
Sarah described her experiences of bringing Mia – who was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus – to UHL as “terrifying”.
“Mia has a shunt in her head. She had a fall, which is an extremely dangerous event for someone with a shunt, yet it took eight hours for her to be seen and that was in paediatric emergency department.
“She’s also a patient in Temple Street and, in the end, I had to get the consultant in Temple Street on the phone to get her seen to. You shouldn’t have to be shouting and kicking up to have your vulnerable child seen in a hospital but that’s what I had to do.”
Clare Sweeney from Newcastlewest said she “cannot believe that in this day and age young people are dying in the emergency department of a hospital”.
“The emergency department, for God’s sake – that’s where you go to feel safe and get help, not to die.”
James Butler from Dooradoyle described his own UHL nightmare experience, after bringing his 85-year old-mother to the chronically overcrowded emergency department.
“She collapsed during Christmas week but she didn’t want to go in an ambulance because she’s been stuck before lying in the ambulance for hours waiting to be even let inside the door of the hospital.
“I drove her to the emergency department, which is five minutes away, and when I got there it was like an airport terminal with the planes on strike. There were no chairs left in reception and people were lining the walls, standing.
“One of the staff said I would be better off taking her to Galway and that’s what I did.
“She was seen there within twenty minutes of arriving and was hooked up to a heart monitor ten minutes later. But I shouldn’t have had to haul her two hours down the road to get proper care.”
Mary Considine from Newmarket on Fergus along with Dolores Curley, Deirdre Cormack and Fidelma Lysaght from Shannon also made their way into the city on Saturday to demand a better health service and the re-opening of emergency departments at the other local hospitals.
“My friend is 92 years of age. She spent two whole days on a trolley in the emergency department. At 92. That’s outrageous,” Dolores told the Limerick Post.
Mary says she’s marching “because we have to get things right”.
“The doctors and nurse are fantastic. They’re doing absolutely everything they can. Management is to blame. They need to be held accountable.”