5-hour wait for tot with sliced finger

GWYNETH HYNDMAN
Last updated 05:00 06/03/2013
LEFT WAITING: Alicia Te Huna and her 18-month-old daughter Jakaya.
DOUG FIELD/Fairfax NZ

LEFT WAITING: Alicia Te Huna and her 18-month-old daughter Jakaya.

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A Bluff mother is furious she had a nearly five-hour wait with her 18-month-old daughter in the Southland Hospital ED waiting room after the toddler almost severed a finger in a doorway.

Alicia Te Huna said she made an official complaint to Southland Hospital on Monday.

A hospital nurse told her that her daughter, Jakaya, needed an anaesthetist before a finger on her right hand could have stitches and the only one available on Sunday morning was dealing with another emergency, Ms Te Huna said.

Jakaya's hand was caught by a slamming door while she was playing at home just after 8am.

Ambulance staff picked her up from home and bandaged her finger before taking her to hospital where the wait began.

Ms Te Huna said it was frustrating to watch people with "stuffed knees and sprained ankles" be seen before her daughter through the morning.

Initially she was told the wait would be "an hour, tops", she said. She had given Jakaya half a teaspoon of paracetamol but hospital staff gave her nothing to dull the pain while they were waiting.

Jakaya was seen at 1.45pm by a doctor and anaesthetist and received stitches, which took about 15 minutes, Ms Te Huna said.

"They are an emergency department. They should be equipped for more than one emergency coming through. My baby's finger was falling off - it was just traumatic. It was nothing a mum would want to see her child go through."

Southland Hospital emergency department clinical lead Dr Adam McLeay said there were three patients in a critical condition on Sunday morning who occupied medical staff in the department until after lunch.

Dr McLeay did not respond to questions emailed to the Southern District Health Board, asking what the staffing levels in the ED were, and if more were needed on weekends.

The health board was happy to discuss any concerns Ms Te Huna had about Jakaya's care directly with her, he said.

"We understand any delay is difficult for patients and their families, particularly when it involves a young child. However, the nature of ED is that the workload is unpredictable, and we must treat those with the most serious conditions first."

Ms Te Huna said when they returned to the ED yesterday to have Jakaya's dressing changed - which was done about a half hour after their arrival - a staff member was walking around and asking if people were comfortable and if they needed anything.

Having that kind of attention on Sunday would have made a difference to their experience, she said.

The National Health Board target is that 95 per cent of patients who went to ED be admitted into hospital, discharged from ED or transferred from ED within six hours.

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- The Southland Times

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