IN the weeks leading up to Christmas, several nurses and a Consultant at Sligo University Hospital were kept busy using chemical swabs and an electric current to cauterise the inside of a Letterkenny pensioner’s nose.
This process, which helps seals the blood vessels and builds scar tissue to help prevent more bleeding, is something that John McArt, originally from Ard Colmcille, has become well used to.
Indeed, the 68-years-old father of three children, can still vividly recall his first severe nose bleed experience which led to him being taken to Letterkenny hospital by his mother in 1957.
Speaking to the Donegal News this week Mr McArt, who now lives in Sligo, threw some light on how things have changed in the health service over the intervening sixty years and questioned the need for all of them.
“The cauterisation I had first in 1957 was very similar in nature to the cauterisation I had in 2017, both had a similar amount of pain, similar smell, the cauterisation in both cases took a similar amount of time and I continued to have nose bleeds after both procedures,” he said.
In 1957 he was dealt with by two people, a nurse and a consultant, and within two hours he was shopping in Letterkenny with his mother.
In 2017 – for the same procedure – he was hospitalised for five hours in Sligo and was dealt with by a doctor, a consultant, numerous nurses, porters, catering, clerical and other ancillary staff.
The process has left him wondering if all the steps he was put through during the 2017 procedure were necessary and if the tax payer is getting fair value for money by having these steps in place.
For example, he has asked why does someone have to be allocated a bed before a “pretty minor procedure” can take place, especially when it is known the bed will never be utilised by the person having this procedure and so is probably denying a much needier patient a bed.
Also, is it necessary to be ferrying people around in ‘flimsy undignified clothing’ when they could easily get to a theatre area on their own steam and then change.
Mr McArt believes today’s health service is bogged down in totally unnecessary procedures that are a waste of time for both the patient and the health system.
“The amount of steps in the system seems to be excessive in the HSE in general – not any particular hospital – as the staff have been more than good to me here in Sligo.
“Lean Methodology is currently being promoted throughout the health service. This is a customer/patient centred methodology used to continuously improve any process and to eliminate wasteful and unnecessary steps taken during a patient’s journey as they make their way through the system. I didn’t see the Lean Methodology in evidence during the 2017 procedure. It’s bureaucracy gone mad,” he said.
Sixty years ago, Mr McArt remembered a ‘guy in the white coat’ putting instruments up his nose which turned out to be sore and had a very unpleasant smell in what was his first cauterisation experience.
“When this procedure was completed I left immediately with my mother and we spent some time shopping in Letterkenny where I got my sweets and my mother done a bit of shopping before returning to our home in Milford,” he said.
Last year, he received a letter stating that he should report to the admissions office in Sligo University Hospital at 8.30am ahead of his latest cauterisation.
From there he went to the Surgery Ward where a nurse indicated that if a bed could not be found that the procedure could not go ahead.
Next, he was taken to a small room where he was told to take off all jewellery and to strip off and put on a ‘flimsy paper type gown’ and await transport to theatre in a wheelchair.
Tea and toast
Following the cauterisation procedure, he was transported back to the surgical ward and told to get dressed and go to the waiting room where, after getting tea and toast, he was allowed home some five hours later.
“Give me the 1957 scenario with a few minor refinements and I will jump at it every time. Don’t assign me a bed when I don’t need one, don’t dress me up in a silly gown for a minor procedure. Don’t send people to ferry me to somewhere I can walk to myself and don’t keep me for an unnecessary length of time in a hospital if unnecessary.
“I pose these questions because someday it might be you or perhaps you are on a waiting list and are anxiously waiting for a bed or for an appointment.
“The Lean Methodology if properly utilised probably has a place in our health service. I cannot help but wonder how seriously is it being implemented or is it just beng given lip service? They seemed to have a better handle on a Lean System back in 1957,” Mr McArt said.
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