A guest post by John Wren:
The Truth about Auckland Hospital
A patients perspective: New Zealand’s largest hospital
The quality of healthcare provided by New Zealand’s largest hospital has been fervently analysed and commented upon by both the media and politicians – yet it is misses a vital viewpoint. Amidst the noise from hospital management, staff, professionals and politicians lies the almost silent perspective of those that should be the centre of our healthcare system. The patient.
It was a Wednesday evening late May. I had finished my dinner and was preparing for an evening in front of the television when I experienced intermittent sharp pains in my chest. A couple of paracetamol didn’t quell the pain and before you know it St John staff are standing at my door, unpacking their equipment and unbuttoning my shirt. I was carted to the ambulance and within thirty minutes was being admitted to the Auckland Hospital emergency department.
Within minutes of arriving I was interviewed by staff and seen by a doctor. Hooked to a ECG, blood test taken, ultrasound booked and chest x-rayed. The speed with which this happened was impressive, the staff in the A&E department were all extremely pleasant, they all greeted me by name and apologised for a having to ask some of the same questions. They were confident, happy to explain what was happening, professional and competent.
By 1am, I had been moved to a medical ward. The staff were still uncertain about the pain but confident it was not heart-related and instead to a previous medical conditions. They explained that next morning I would be visited by a specialist who would review my condition but in the meantime they would keep me comfortable, monitor my condition and provide pain relief…
My journey through the system then commenced. At this point the medical issues are not important, I was examined by many competent staff and an extensive range of tests were conducted. I was made to feel important every staff member whether they were a senior specialist or the ladies who mopped the floor greeted me with a smile and friendly comment .
Eventually it was decided that I needed surgery. But by this time the weekend had arrived and scheduling my surgery into a busy weekend schedule was a challenge. Every staff member whether they were a nurse, a student registrar or ward doctor went out of their way to ensure that I was comfortable and my needs were being attended too.
For example, I was sent to radiology for another chest X-ray. After the first procedure they required a second X-ray but in the interim period I had to sit up in my bed for 15 minutes to allow my lung to drain. I was left in a waiting area outside radiology. A staff member walking past smiled and said, “You look cold, I will get you a blanket.” He was back within two minutes with a hot blanket,
Every afternoon my meal order was taken for the next 24 hours. I was offered a colourful printed menu with descriptions of each of the choices. The days before and following my surgery food was of little interest, however as I recovered I began to appreciate the flavour and texture of the food that was served. I really enjoyed the meals.
My room, of four beds, was close to the staff area and it was a pleasure to hear chatter and laughter. I had the feeling that staff was happy and working in an atmosphere where they were appreciated and therefore came to work with a commitment and dedication, this was further reflected in the way in which they cared for my needs.
Visits by medical specialists and other staff were pleasant. There was no sense of urgency. Staff took time to explain to me the results of monitoring my vital signs, reasons for further tests and the next steps in my rehabilitation.
On the day I left hospital I had visits from occupational therapists and physiotherapists arranging for my move home. As I left the hospital, I was given a showering stool an extensive set of advice and instructions and medications.
About an hour after I arrived home I received a phone call from the department responsible for after-care to arrange a visit. Within 60 minutes a manager arrived to check out our home. He arranged for someone to visit each morning for the coming few weeks to assist me with showering and getting dressed This service started the next day and continued for about three weeks until I was able to safely shower and get dressed on my own.
The following week I had a call from a physiotherapist who has continued to visit every week supervising exercises, which are helping me to regain my balance and walking skills. The services and the support provided both within and outside Auckland Hospital with seamless and could not be faulted.
From a patient’s perspective and that of someone who has contributed over many years of taxation the system is working delivering a quality of care that goes well beyond the expectations of a state funded systems.
So those who continue, to be critical of the hospital system – listen to those who really have experience of what happens then you may be competent to make objective comment about Hospital care. All those in the delivery chain, from the Minister through the Ministry of Health, to the management and staff of Auckland Hospital, are doing an exclamatory job delivering an excellent service to me, a taxpayer.
Nice to have a story from a patient who had great quality of care.