When Claire Chapman fell out of bed early yesterday morning and ended up in Waikato Hospital's emergency department (ED) it felt like the worst birthday present ever.
Turning 78 in the back of an ambulance, and then lying in an ED bed, was not how the former Wellington Hospital nurse thought she'd be spending her day.
But as the 100,000th patient through Waikato District Health Board's EDs this year, she did end up with a book on the history of Waikato Hospital.
It is the first year the numbers have been so high, with 96,392 through the ED last year. Back in 2008, 78,570 went through the five hospitals' EDs, which also include Thames, Te Kuiti, Taumarunui and Tokoroa Hospitals.
The DHB has been struggling to cope with the numbers and last week had to cancel 21 planned surgeries because they were running out of beds.
They've urged people to stay away from the ED, and visit their GP instead, unless it's an absolute emergency.
Mrs Chapman moved to Hamilton in October after living for 50 years in Tokoroa with her late husband who was the town's Assembly of God clergyman.
"This is my first fall and I don't want to do this ever again," she said.
She feels a bit bruised and battered with sore muscles and insists the fall is a reminder to take things easy.
- Waikato Times