"A 2 ½ hour wait to transfer a sick oncology patient just across the road"

About: Epworth Eastern

(as a relative),

I am appealing to the hospital to look at correcting a problem with transporting patients between Box Hill Hospital and Epworth Private Hospital, Box Hill to their medical imaging department and vice versa.

Recently, our family had a horrible experience that could have been avoided. A 2 ½ hour wait to transfer a sick oncology patient just across the road. They were picked up early so that 2 patients could be transferred at once. They ended up becoming very agitated, anxious and verbally aggressive to the escort nurse, their family and anyone who happened to walk by, whilst waiting to be retrieved and returned to the ward. They were without medication for 6 hours and when the nurse rang to see if medication could be brought to them which would have helped calm them down; we were told no! If they was already back on the ward, this would not have been a problem. They threatened to walk out numerous times as the wait time lengthened and they became more anxious. The escort nurse and I discussed a code grey would be called if they lashed out at us, or tried to attempt to leave against the protocol. This was luckily not the case but a plan was required due to their agitated state of mind. They were exhausted. They only received food as we, their relatives, were contacted in the evening to say they weren’t back yet and could we get some food to take to them.

We tried to keep them calm in an empty medical imaging department. Only the receptionist Robyn stayed back as she was concerned for us. She was absolutely fantastic and she tried her best to get transport as soon as possible. She experienced the patient transport staff not answering her call, were rude when she did get to speak to them; we found this whole situation unacceptable. All we wanted was an estimated time of arrival so we could placate our sick person.

So, 6 hours, no medication for their anxiety, and a patient who needed to rest before starting chemotherapy the very next day who then heard after waiting or 2 ½ hours for transport to arrive, one of the transport people state they only got the call for the job half an hour before and they were in Warrigal.

The receptionist stayed behind as she didn’t want us left alone in an empty medical imaging department. She apologized on her behalf for the disgusting situation we were all put through, when all my relative needed was to be put back into their bed across the road! The escort nurse, Candy, also comforted us and apologised profusely for the horrible experience which was totally out of her control. She couldn’t even leave them to get medication that could have helped them.

You need to consider some type of passageway that connects the two hospitals. It does not help to hear that other poor souls have experienced the same thing, as we were told this was a common occurrence. If there was such a back log in arranging pickups, the booking would not have been made, if the staff were aware/informed of this fact.

So put yourself in the position of a sick oncology patient who is exhausted and know that what they want is just across the road. A bed, medication even food but these were withheld from them for 2 ½ hours. You wouldn’t like it if it happened to you, so why let this continue for others.

As a secondary effect from this experience, they now believe their family were taking away their rights as an individual, when all we were there for was to keep them company. It was the hospital protocol that withheld their rights to be brought back to their hospital bed for them to rest and receive the bedside nursing care they required within a reasonable time period. If we could have escorted them over the road, they could have been back in the ward at a reasonable hour and not return late at night.

We appreciate that this issue has previously been brought to your attention, but we wish to encourage you strongly review and address this situation. It’s just not acceptable. None of this is exaggerated; I am just stating the facts and had others witness the distress this situation brought to everyone involved.

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