"After hours care in Kalbarri"
Posted by Angry Kalbarri Resident (as ),
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!