‘Our girls are victims of UHL’ says grieving mother

University Hospital Limerick

THE MOTHER of a young woman who died at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) has called on the Minister for Health to intervene further to alleviate chronic overcrowding at the Limerick hospital in the midst of news of another death of a young girl.

Melanie Sheehan Cleary whose daughter Eve (21) died in UHL in 2019 said she was “sick to my stomach” after learning about another a preliminary assessment into the circumstances around the death of a 16-year-old girl at UHL three weeks ago.

This latest tragedy comes less than two years after the death of 16-year-old Aoife Johnston, from Shannon, County Clare, who spent 12 hours on a trolley as meningitis in her body developed into fatal sepsis.

The girl, whose death on January 29 is subject of a review by the HSE and UL Hospitals Group, was reportedly initially admitted to a resuscitation area at UHL but deemed well enough to be transferred to a trolley in a corridor prior to her death in after she was brought back into the resuscitation unit in a critical condition.

On the day she died, UHL was the most overcrowded hospital nationally, with 113 patients on trolleys in corridors and other areas of the emergency department and wards.

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Commenting on the revelation that another inquiry is underway into the death of a second 16-year-old girl in the hospital in as many years, Ms Cleary Sheehan told the Limerick Post: “It is just heartbreaking.”

“I can’t believe it. It’s clear that we are all taking our chances now by going into UHL, the overcrowding there is beyond anything we have ever seen.”

There was a record 150 patients on trolleys at the hospital on February 7.

UHL was also overcrowded with trolleys on the day Eve Cleary died in the early hours of July 21, 2019. She spent 17 hours on a trolley before her death from cardiac arrest due to her developing blood clots.

Eve’s family and the HSE reached a High Court settlement without any admission of liability last month. Following the settlement, UHL expressed its “sincere condolences and deep regret” over Eve’s death.

Asking Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to intervene, Ms Sheehan Cleary called on UHL management to consider their positions in the wake of the death of another young woman in the midst of chaotic overcrowding at the hospital.

“I feel as if the whole management team should step down,” she said.

Minister Donnelly has said he has allocated millions of euro to try to alleviate overcrowding and recruit staff at UHL.

Melanie Sheehan Cleary and Barry Cleary with a photo of their late daughter Eve. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

“Where is the money going? Is it being used to pay out to families of patients who have died? Where is it going? That’s what I would like to know,” probed Ms Sheehan Cleary.

“From what I have seen so far, he is a very fair person but Stephen Donnelly, in my opinion, is not in touch with the situation at UHL at all. He announces when he is visiting the hospital, why isn’t he coming down on spec looking at the situation?”

“These girls are victims of UHL,” she said.

“We are gutted at this latest case review because we feel as if no lessons have been learned after Eve’s death. We didn’t even get an apology.

“Eve’s death was four and half years ago now, and we are looking at these shocking deaths, we are horrified.

“There are young scared women dying there, it is just horrendous.

“There are no words anymore for what is being allowed to happen in UHL.”

Ms Sheehan Cleary said Minister Donnelly has not responded to her requests to meet him about Eve’s case.

“We are taking our chances out in UHL now, because you will either be left on a trolley so long, or, in Eve’s case, she was sent home before she died, and this girl was moved from resus and out onto a trolley and her mother pleading for help, from what I have read, what the hell is gong on out there?

“I am going to send more emails to the Minister highlighting the situation there,” she declared.

Minister Donnelley said he is aware of the latest investigation at UHL and offered his condolences to the girl’s family.

Ms Sheehan Cleary said she is waiting to meet with HSE boss Bernard Gloster to hear the conclusion of a HSE review of her daughter’s case.