I wrote a week ago that I expected normal transmissions to resume forthwith. That didn’t happen.
Amanda was then in the Critical Care Unit at Wanganui Hospital. I foolishly imagined that she would be safe there. I was wrong.
She still has multiple major injuries. She has a broken neck and is wearing a brace to stabilise that fracture and prevent spinal damage. She has a fractured pelvis and must not put any weight on her feet. These would be simple to manage, except that Amanda is also brain injured. This means she sometimes forgets she has these injuries, tries to get up and walk, remove her neck brace, etc. She is also disoriented and suffers vertigo. She must be supervised contantly.
Amanda was in the care of the Wanganui Hopsital when she suffered these injuries, so we hoped that they would take their duty of care for her seriously from that time on.
Last Sunday 22nd Feb she was left unsupervised in the Critical Care Unit. She got out of bed and immediately fell, striking her head on the floor and suffering a deep cut to the right side of her head above the eye. I had only been away from the hospital for about fifteen minutes, and arrived back to find her sitting in bed with a large wound covered with steri- strips, with blood pouring down her face, into her beck brace, and onto pyjamas and sheets. I stood by her bed for over an hour holding a dressing to her wound to stop the bleeding (unsuccessfully), while staff tried to work out what to do. Finally one of the surgical doctors came and sutured the wound.
There were no staff to remain with her, so I stayed with Amanda at the hospital that night, all through the next day and the following night. On Tuesday I met with nursing staff and doctors. I had then had two hours sleep in the previous 60 hours. It was agreed that Amanda should be transferred to a surgical ward, and that additional staff would be provided to watch her. I offered to go on a roster to fill in any gaps.
However, when I arrived the next day, it became clear that the expectation was that I would be by Amanda’s bedside from 9am to 9pm every day. She is my sister and I love her. I would do anything for her. But that was not what I had in mind when I offered to ‘fill in the gaps.’
Additional staff were to be provided by Te Awhina, the residential psych unit. I was not happy about this – these were the people who were responsible for Amanda’s care at the time of her original injuries. But there was no option, so I accepted this as a compromise. I made it clear though, that there were three specific staff members I did not want involved in her care. One had a history of drinking before coming on shift, one had, well, let’s just say he was not a safe person to have around young female clients, and the other was known to clients and former staff and as a bully.
The first person to arrive to watch Amanda was one of the people on that list. I stayed with Amanda that night until change of shift and that person left. It was also clear that those staff had no idea why they were there, so I wrote out a list of Amanda’s injuries, and explained specifically that she could not put any weight on her feet, and might have to be restrained from removing her collar. I also had a copy of those instructions placed in her hospital notes.
The next day I repeated my concerns to someone in the hospital I thought could make a difference. I also had repeated arguments with nursing staff, who seemed constantly to be wanting to get Amanda on her feet. I explained each time that the orthopedic staff had said specifically she not to bear any weight on her feet. It was clear none of the staff had been briefed on her injuires and nursing requirements, and that none of them had read her notes. Many of them argued with me rudely and dismissively, before saying that they would go and check her notes. I could only respond by saying I thought this was a very good idea. I refrained from saying the obvious – that it might be a good plan to read a patient’s notes before attempting to move her around or administer other medical care.
The same staff member from Te Awhina wa again the first to turn up that night. By this time I was approaching exhaustion, and simply could not stay. I went home and had a restless night’s sleep, wondering what I would find the next morning. I was right to be concerned.
When I arrived the following morning, one of the nursing staff was walking Amanda back from the shower. The orthopedic staff had said this would cause damage to her pelvis. This was in her notes. My instructions were in her notes. But this was not the end.
Amanda told me, and this was then confirmed by the nurses, that Te Awhina staff had twice walked her up to the toilet during the night, and left her unattended. The first time she fell from the toilet and landed on her head on the floor (again!). She lay there calling for help, and soiled herself. The second time, she was left alone in the toilet, unable to bear any weight on her feet, with no sense of balance, confused and disoriented from her brain injury and her fall earlier that same night. She could not get her shorts down and wet herself.
When I found out about this I got a wheelchair, wheeled her down to the car park, put her in the car and took her home.
I then rang the hospital and told them I had taken her home. I explained that I could no longer have any faith in the undertakings hospital were contantly giving me, and believed I would be failing in my duty of care to my sister if I left them in her care any longer.
My respite time (provided by trustworthy friends not the hospital) is up. More on this later.
The name for the local health service, including the Wanganui Hospital, is ‘Good Health Wanganui.’ The locals call it ‘God Help Wanganui.’