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"Lack of support for frail patient"

About: Melbourne Private Hospital

(as the patient),

Last year I took my parent in to Melbourne Private Hospital for a procedure. My parent is on dialysis and the day that they were going in I was taking them in straight after the treatment. Understandably this leaves them very exhausted, so in anticipation for this, I called the hospital a few weeks before they were due for admission to organise a wheelchair at the drop off area so they did not have to walk in – they really struggle with this. The hospital said this was not a problem.

The day of admission, I called an hour before we were due to arrive and confirmed that there would indeed be a wheelchair waiting, to which the staff confirmed this.

So my parent and I took a taxi to the hospital, however upon arrival there was no seat outside for my parent to sit on while I went in to get the wheelchair. As I had no other choice, I left my parent in the taxi while I went in to speak with reception about the wheelchair. I went up to the front desk and asked where I could get the wheelchair I had arranged. The staff behind the desk told me that there was none. Really? I had called an hour prior and been assured it was ready.

So I asked the staff if they could please come and help me bring my parent in as they are frail and I did not want them to get hurt. They responded by telling me that they couldn’t because they weren’t allowed to leave the desk.

I returned to the taxi, trying to figure out how I would get my parent inside. By this point the taxi driver was quite angry as the delay had caused them to lose business. They were very frustrated, but offered to help me get my parent inside. At this point I had to give them $50 for having put them out.

The medical staff during my parent’s stay were mostly very good. The doctor and their staff are great, however we did have one nurse that I believe tried to force my parent to take blood pressure medication that they aren’t allowed to take prior to dialysis. Luckily my parent is very strong minded and knew what can and can’t be taken before their treatment. I believe as well that another staff member at the hospital stepped in to stop the nurse from doing this.

When I paid for the visit, I explained the issue with the taxi and lack of preparation that the hospital had in regards to my parent’s admission. The hospital did deduct $50 to make up for the money I had to give the taxi driver, however the whole experience felt insulting to my parent and myself. I feel like the hospital is only in this for the money.

I tried to submit a formal complaint via the hospital’s online feedback system, but they never responded to it. After a month of non-response I called them, only for them to tell me that the feedback system didn’t work.

I’ve recently been back to the hospital only to find that around a year on they still don’t have a wheelchair available, or a seat at the entrance. I hope that Melbourne Private Hospital deal with this as I don’t want this to happen to anyone else, as I know that my parent is not the only frail person to be admitted to this hospital.

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Update posted by feeling ignored (the patient)

I’d like provide an update on my story, as the issues have not been resolved and I have found more issues as time has gone on.

Recently my parent had to go back to Melbourne Private Hospital for a heart procedure. As is often the case, they were coming straight from dialysis and because of this they were very cold and shivering. I asked the nurse if they had some warm blankets I could put over them, to help them warm up immediately. I was looking for a blanket that had been on a heating rack that would already be warmed up. The nurse advised that they don’t have that. So, what do you have to warm up patients?

I’m shocked that the hospital doesn’t have these basic services. It’s not the fault of the nurses that they can’t provide this, as they work very hard, and often seem understaffed. The administration team should ensure that the hospital has these services ready and available to all patients, should they need it. When the hospital charges around $3000 per night, and is a very established hospital, it seems crazy that they don’t have these things available.

Furthermore, I received a response from the hospital from a letter I wrote to them that apologised for the lack of a wheelchair available at the entrance of the hospital. However, they still have not fixed the problem as during our most recent visit, still no one was able to provide us with one.

Finally, in previous visits last year, my parent’s OT and nurse outside of the hospital noted that my parent had been coming back to dialysis after being in hospital with pressure sores and that they have been getting increasingly worse after each visit. How can the hospital be missing this? My parent’s nurse was furious and said that they may even contact the hospital as it was not acceptable.

Overall this just seems totally unacceptable and I just don’t want anyone else to experience this. It’s not just older patients that need things like a wheelchair, people of all ages may need that support to get in and out of the hospital.

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