"After hours care in Kalbarri"

About: Geraldton Hospital Kalbarri Health Centre

(as a relative),

Recently one evening around 10:45pm at a family party in Kalbarri, my sibling had a fall from quite a height onto concrete. We were quick to act and rushed them down to the medical centre with hopes a nurse would be there as it was school holidays and the town's population grows - FYI our medical centre isn't open 24 hours anymore!

On arrival the centre was closed, so you press a red button on the wall that connects you to Health Direct (an after hours GP helpline), taking several minutes for someone to answer. At this stage they had been bleeding heavily and was in quite a panicked state (as you could imagine). Health Direct answers and asks for the person's details, then your details as you're speaking on someone's behalf, why you are calling, where are you and what's the address. Are you serious? You press a button on a Emergency Centre wall and they don't know where you are! I should mention its quite difficult to hear through the speaker on the wall and for Health Direct to hear you so there is a lot of 'pardon', 'what was that', 'can you repeat that please'.

After explaining the situation and urging them to just call a nurse to get down here now, and answering what seemed like 100 questions and being on hold for at least 5 minutes, we were told that we should just go to Geraldton, a 2 hour drive away as they could not get in touch with the nurse on call.

At this stage roughly around 11:25pm, driving to Geraldton would be putting our own lives at risk as well! I should also mention that at one stage we were told to sit them down. Yeah, okay, whereabouts? On the cold wet paving in front of the door? There are no chairs, bench or anything! Luckily I had a picnic rug in the car we sat them down, trying to keep them calm so they didn't go in to shock!

After about 15-20 minutes a nurse finally arrived. She informed us that the Health Direct people rang and something happened and she missed it but they never rang back! Luckily she came down anyway. Thank you!

Did you also know that an orderly is on duty at night for cleaning, etc but are instructed to hide when someone comes to the door for help! What? Where is the 'duty of care'?

We are lucky that Kalbarri finally has a full-time doctor in town who was able to come down to the centre. I should mention that the doctor is only allowed a certain number of 'on-call hours', so if they go over them, stiff? Thanks, WA Country Health!

The doctor was wonderful and checked my sibling over and insisted they would need to go to Geraldton for further scans, x-rays, etc that Kalbarri can not provide. They arranged an ambulance transfer, which took over an hour to arrive as they were having a busy night and with only two ambulances and run by volunteers they were stretching themselves - pretty bad for having one of the largest ambulance centres in WA, hey?

Finally taken down to Geraldton around 3am, straight through the emergency department, (thank goodness they didn't have to wait another 4 hours in the emergency waiting room) my sibling saw a doctor that said there was no need for scans, etc. They stitched what needed to be stitched, told my sibling to go see a dentist asap and they can go. Released at 5:30am from Kalbarri with no where to go, well thank you very much! You hear this happening too often the doctor in Kalbarri has sent patients down for further treatment only to be overridden by another doctor in Geraldton and told they can leave!? You've just travelled 2 hours in an ambulance (or driven yourself in some cases) for what?

Luckily when my sibling explained to a nurse the situation the nurse agreed to let them stay until a decent hour. My sibling also asked another nurse about a dentist and their reply was - I haven't lived in Geraldton that long so I don't know, google it!

My sibling rang me back in Kalbarri and told me what was going on, and I was quick to call friends in Geraldton to arrange somewhere to stay. I also rang the emergency department myself to see what was going on and demand ice for my sibling's face, pain relief and a emergency dentist contact number. I must add that the nurse I spoke to was wonderful and did all that I asked so thank you. Also thank you to the nurse and doctor in Kalbarri they do a wonderful job.

This whole experience has left me absolutely horrified and angry to say the least! Waiting at the door of an emergency medical centre for someone to help! I'm not the first person to complain about the medical centre's situation in Kalbarri, with several people having similar experiences, some worse than others! Is it going to take a death at the door of the centre for something to change? It's a terrifying situation especially when you have so many young children and elderly in town, not to mention Kalbarri is a tourism town (businesses rely heavily on visitors to stay open). What do you think a visitor would think about this situation or experiencing it for themselves? Do you reckon they would come back or recommended Kalbarri to their friends? I don't think so! WA Country Health Services need to start listening to the community of Kalbarri and take action before the unthinkable happens!

A town meeting will be held Monday 24th July, 3:30pm at the Kalbarri Sports and Rec, where WACHS will be in attendance and I encourage all community members to attend!

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Responses

Response from Michele Young, Coordinator Executive Services, WACHS - Midwest We are preparing to make a change

Dear Angry Kalbarri Resident

Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns on Patient Opinion. It is particularly distressing when a loved one is hurt and I am sorry that you and your sibling have experienced our service in this way. I acknowledge your frustration as it appears that you did not receive the high level of care that we aim to provide.

The Kalbarri Health Centre provides a 24hr / seven day a week health service to the Kalbarri Community. The Health Service utilises Health Direct via a call button on the external wall of the Centre or by calling 1800 022 222 when the Centre is not staffed overnight with a nurse.

The call button you describe links directly to Healthdirect which allows for 24/7 access to a nurse triage helpline. Callers to Healthdirect speak with a registered nurse, who assess their situation and contacts the nurse on call at Kalbarri Health Centre if required. We are currently investigating the issues you have raised around the speaker and your contact with Healthdirect.

The All Purpose Orderly is employed to clean and provide support and is not trained in a medical capacity. The orderly will assist under the supervision of clinical staff once they arrive at the Centre, however is not responsible for responding to people presenting to the health service.

I have spoken to the A/Operations Manager regarding your feedback around the lack of outside seating and options are being explored on how best we can address this issue, it is unacceptable for our patients to be lying on the ground.

In regards to your siblings clinical care we are unable to investigate this specific matter further without additional details, and due to confidentiality requirements we would require your sister to contact us directly to discuss the issues you have raised. Andrew Klein, Operations Manager Midwest District can be contacted on andrew.klein@health.wa.gov.au or 9956 2268 or alternatively my contact details are michele.young@health.wa.gov.au or 9956 8695. Your complaint can still be addressed anonymously. We will of course respect you and your siblings decision should you choose not to make contact and if this is the case we will have general discussions with staff about your experience and how we may improve. We would however be happy to discuss the other aspects of your experience that don’t relate to your siblings clinical care and would look forward to your call.

For any concerns relating to ambulance services in Kalbarri please contact Lynne Hunt, Regional Manager St John Ambulance on 9938 0930 or lynne.hunt@stjohnambulance.com.au

I was pleased to read about the positive comments you provided around the team members that provided care to your sibling at both the Kalbarri Health Centre and the Geraldton Hospital. WA Country Health Service Midwest values feedback from patients and their families as it allows us to reflect on our services and improve them in a manner that meets the needs of the community.

I can advise WA Country Health Service Midwest representatives will attend the town meeting scheduled for the 24 July and will include the Midwest Regional Director, Operations Manager Midwest District, Regional Patient Safety and Quality Coordinator, Regional Director Nursing Midwifery Services, Manager Aged and Community Care and the Human Resource Manager.

Please be assured of our commitment to address the issues you have raised, we look forward to hearing from you and your sibling soon. I hope your sibling has made a full recovery.

Kind regards

Michele

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Response from Michele Young, Coordinator Executive Services, WACHS - Midwest We have made a change

Kalbarri Health Centre seating

Dear Angry Kalbarri Resident,

Just a quick update to let you know that an interim bench has been installed at the Kalbarri Health Centre to address the issue you raised around lack of seating options.

The Kalbarri Men’s shed has been commissioned to build the health service a permanent bench designed specifically for the space.

WA Country Health Service Midwest strives to provide quality consumer-centred care by building positive partnerships with our health service users so thank you again for taking the time to get in touch and also, allowing us the opportunity to improve our service.

Kind regards

Michele

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Update posted by Angry Kalbarri Resident (a relative)

Hi Michele,

Thanks for your quick response and action taken with the seating, the bench is great. Unfortunately this doesn't solve the problem of the centre not being open 24hrs/7days a week. Hopefully your focus is now on recruiting full-time staff for our health centre so a nurse is there 24/7.

Kind regards,

Angry Kalbarri Resident

Response from Michele Young, Coordinator Executive Services, WACHS - Midwest

Dear Angry Kalbarri Resident,

Thank you for getting back in touch, I would like to assure you that WA Country Health Service Midwest will continue to actively recruit to vacant positions at the Kalbarri Health Centre.

In regards to the seating just a quick update - the team from the Kalbarri Mens Shed have been round to measure for the seating, there will be 2 seats, 1 a bench style and the other a day bed style which will allow for people to lay down if needed. These will be placed in close vicinity to the Emergency entrance.

Please don’t hesitate to contact Andrew Klein, Operations Manager Midwest District on 9956 2268 or Andrew.Klein@health.wa.gov.au should you wish to discuss these matters further, Andrew would be very happy to take your call.

Kind regards

Michele

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