"Taxing, isolating and unsatisfying."
About: Princess Margaret Hospital for Children Princess Margaret Hospital for Children Subiaco 6008
Posted by Observer (as ),
My baby was a planned admission to Princess Margaret Hospital. Certainly if there had been a choice, it would have been preferable to not have been an inpatient at all. However, my child required investigations and as a country patient, these could not be performed as outpatient/day procedures.
Our hospital experience began with disjointed pre-admission communication and ended with a vague - has the doctor seen you? …you can probably go then - without so much as a copy of our discharge summary (until I specifically requested one). There were so many events, too many to detail, which may not have been critical nor affected the eventual outcome of our treatment but did contribute to an overall experience that was more taxing, isolating and unsatisfying than it need have been.
I understand that PMH was and is well overdue to relocate to the new facility and the staff are probably working under less than ideal conditions. Yet, I still feel that for a booked admission, we were poorly accommodated. Mainly, I felt some of the staff (equally, some were excellent) were not particularly empathetic to the additional challenges regional patients encounter in accessing specialist health services. I had travelled alone (husband remained at work) with a baby, to a city where we had no family or support networks and for how long we didn’t know, with nothing but an admission date and the instruction to call on the morning of to confirm bed availability… it wasn’t as if I was just driving in from a few suburbs away.
Understandably, healthcare is a process of constant re-prioritisation and we came prepared to wait but I would have liked to have been kept better informed of the treatment plan and anticipated time-frames. Because my baby wasn’t acutely unwell, I didn’t demand attention & for the most part didn’t need any help, I felt completely overlooked, like we were wasting space or didn’t deserve to be there. At its worst, this resulted in an episode of ultimately unnecessary fasting of a young, exclusively breastfed-on-demand infant… a bit stressful for both of us. I accept that we were never on the list for the procedure that day but it demonstrated a fair degree of disregard for the mother & baby unit that this wasn’t clarified and communicated to me hours earlier.
A busy hospital ward is to be expected, but the atmosphere was closer to chaotic much of the time. I was brushed off when I asked, out of curiosity, what a particular test was looking for; other staff interrupted as one of the doctors was explaining something to me, so that she had to leave to attend to another matter and I never got to hear the rest; the ward clerk was dismissive the single time I approached the station…Then there was being prodded at 2 a.m. and told we were to be moved to a different room but before I had a chance to get up, some random night duty staff swiftly wheeled the hospital cot containing my baby out the door and left me to pack up our belongings and drag everything down the corridor alone. I wasn’t requiring exclusive private patient privileges or the Hilton… but we were put in noisy four-bed room and despite needing to get up to feed and resettle my baby several times a night – more than usual because of frequent disturbance by usual ward activity – I was offered a fold down bed, in a back corner of the room not even within sight of the cot. The only way I could be reasonably near was to sleep in a recliner. I understand due to infection control and other considerations room re-allocations are necessary, however, surely this reshuffling could have been handled better and perhaps occurred earlier in the evening in anticipation of needing to accommodate overnight admissions? I can’t blame individuals, they were doing what needed to be done and for a different patient/carer this may have been a non-issue but it is one example of something that, in my circumstances was significant.
I may have reacted differently to some of these situations if it were not such a tense, uncertain time. But then, is any person with the need to be in hospital ever going to be feeling anything but fragile? I think I am fairly resilient and able to reflect on the experience rationally but I do wonder how a similar experience could impact on the next person.
Cannot fault the medical expertise that we benefited from.
The wonderful ward volunteer – Sharon? – who took my baby in her stroller for a walk around the ward to allow me a bathroom visit and a coffee break; and the tea lady for caring whether I was fed!