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In Praise of Canberra Hospital’s Emergency Department (yes … praise)

By deezagood 24 June 2009 37

Emergency Departments are depressing places at the best of times and last Sunday night was no exception. We arrived in the early evening and the place was, as always, heaving with people. There were angry people, abusive people, really sick people, injured people, drunk/high people, resigned people and those people that always seem to cluster right at the entrance of the ED, smoking themselves to better health.

My seven year old daughter had badly cut her wrist on a piece glass and was bleeding quite profusly – we needed urgent medical attention (fending off the anticipated accusations of bad mothering, she broke the glass while unloading the dishwasher, under supervision, and these are our first stitches in eight years of parenthood).

Admittedly, our ER visit didn’t get off to a great start, as we had to wait 15 minutes just to get our names on the list and be seen to by the triage nurse (yes, they were that busy). However, once we were seen, our experience was excellent. The poor, much-harangued staff were just lovely to my daughter and they patched her up while we waited to see a doctor for stitches. Given the number of people in the waiting room, they seemed to move through the patients pretty quickly, and in only a few hours we were seen by an absolutely lovely doctor who could not have been more gentle and kind to my  terrified little girl.

But this isn’t what made our visit worthy of praise. As I was driving home from the hospital, a staff member called me to report that we had left without picking up the ‘Bravery Award’ that they must give to all of the kids who have procedures. I just wanted to get my daughter home, so I told the staff not to worry about it. Imagine my surprise when the certificate turned up in our mail yesterday, with a short note from the hospital staff. My daughter was thrilled to bits and I think that sending us the certificate was a really lovely thing for the staff to do, especially given their constant workload. 

So – high praise to the Canberra Hospital’s ED admin staff – your little bit of extra effort made my little girl’s day. I also think it is great to see McDonalds, AMF Bowling and Luna Park sponsoring the award with their vouchers too. Now,  if we could only get more staffing to support those lovely, hard-working ED staff …. 

What’s Your opinion?


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37 Responses to
In Praise of Canberra Hospital’s Emergency Department (yes … praise)
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bendddd 4:20 pm 30 Jun 09

I’ve been to the ED a few times – and I always found everybody there very helpful.

I think we need more of the kind of people who work in ED in our society.

It’s a shame we don’t get to choose where our tax $ go.

MWF 3:57 pm 26 Jun 09

My partner once spend 3 days in A&E. He tried to escape and catch a taxi home (while still attached to a drip) but they caught him. It was a horrible 3 days until they found a bed for him in the ward – the noise, the drunks, screaming children, no wonder he tried to escape.

Qbn Gal 1:52 pm 25 Jun 09

Any experience, good or bad, should be documented and sent to the hospital via their feedback forms or a letter. It’s nice to hear positive stuff on a forum like these, and equally, disturbing to hear the negative, but it is more appropriate to direct it to the powers that be. Particularly in the case of bad experiences, they need to know about it so that they can fix it and no-one else needs to go through the bad.

lucym, I am so sorry your Dad had such a bad experience. It shouldn’t happen like that, to anyone.

bohemian 12:33 pm 25 Jun 09

housebound said :

They’re great with babies, young children, flowing blood, heart conditions.

They’re not so good with young men and their sporting/drinking injuries, sick teenagers, asian students with poor english, and old people with an acute episode of a chronic condition. These people aren’t ignored, but the treatment isn’t quite as generous.

I beg to differ…..

Jim Jones 12:32 pm 25 Jun 09

housebound said :

They’re great with babies, young children, flowing blood, heart conditions.

They’re not so good with young men and their sporting/drinking injuries, sick teenagers, asian students with poor english, and old people with an acute episode of a chronic condition. These people aren’t ignored, but the treatment isn’t quite as generous.

That’s called prioritization.

deezagood 12:31 pm 25 Jun 09

lucym said :

Nice to hear that you are happy.

I am still upset at the ED triage nurse who made my elderly and terminally ill father wait for 8 hours (along with my elderly mother) despite being advised by another nurse that there was a bed in the ward for him in National Capital. He was almost unconscious and couldn’t sit unaided and the ED was the only way to get him admitted over a long weekend (if you have a serious illness, hope you don’t deteriorate over a weekend as your GP can’t admit you to hospital). I got the strong impression that the triage nurse didn’t believe in private health care and she didn’t care that one patient admitted means one less patient in the ED queue. He died a few days later.

I guess they get brickbats and bouquets and on occasion both are valid.

That is a really, really sad story. I’m so sorry your father had to endure that treatment in his last days.

deezagood 12:28 pm 25 Jun 09

There seems to be a sad ED story for every happy story, but maybe because we have little kids, our treatment has always been really good. I think the sad stories are more about the lack of resources than the staff’s committment or professionalism though.

bren 12:25 pm 25 Jun 09

Good to hear some positive feedback in an area with very little good news and always under-resourced.

peterh 11:14 am 25 Jun 09

i have had to wait in the ED with a friend who had hit a pole on a rural road, the nurses attention to his needs were exemplary.

I have also been in the ED with my children, from time to time, and babies don’t always take priority. But we understand that a littlie may have to wait if an ambulance comes in.

My wife had a serious haemmorhage, and was sent to the hospital in an ambulance.

I was escorted in a very confused and stressed state when my wife was in surgery by a nurse who sat with me in the waiting area, she went into recovery to check on the status of my wife withiout being asked. she led me into recovery to see my wife, without her assistance, I don’t know how i could have coped. we did write a letter to the hospital – thanking her for her work and outstanding support.

Through all of the trips to the ED, one thing, for me, always stands out – these people try to always greet you, there is never a sour person behind the counter, and they care about your welfare. not because it is their job, but because they really do care.

i wouldn’t trade with these people. they see the worst of humanity, sickness, accidents, death. And they go back to work the next day.

trevar 9:40 am 25 Jun 09

I’ve had a few occasions to go to the ED at Canberra Hospital, and I have been likewise very pleased with the service. Great post.

housebound 9:17 am 25 Jun 09

They’re great with babies, young children, flowing blood, heart conditions.

They’re not so good with young men and their sporting/drinking injuries, sick teenagers, asian students with poor english, and old people with an acute episode of a chronic condition. These people aren’t ignored, but the treatment isn’t quite as generous.

And you must always, always have someone with you who is well so they can advocate for you if you have the misfortune of not being in the first group.

bohemian 12:26 am 25 Jun 09

I too had good experience with the Canberra Hospital’s ED few years ago when I had an asthma attack in the middle of the night. I was in panic mode as every breathe I drew hurts like hell. A nurse came to my rescue, wheeled me straight in without asking question, gave me the necessary medication and told my partner to sort out the paperwork later. Even after I was warded, almost every single staff of either nurse, doctor or specialist I interacted with were nothing but excellent. I wrote them a thank you card when I was discharged.

I’m glad too that you posted the story, deezagood. They do deserve a recognition.

lucym 11:06 pm 24 Jun 09

Nice to hear that you are happy.

I am still upset at the ED triage nurse who made my elderly and terminally ill father wait for 8 hours (along with my elderly mother) despite being advised by another nurse that there was a bed in the ward for him in National Capital. He was almost unconscious and couldn’t sit unaided and the ED was the only way to get him admitted over a long weekend (if you have a serious illness, hope you don’t deteriorate over a weekend as your GP can’t admit you to hospital). I got the strong impression that the triage nurse didn’t believe in private health care and she didn’t care that one patient admitted means one less patient in the ED queue. He died a few days later.

I guess they get brickbats and bouquets and on occasion both are valid.

TP 3000 8:54 pm 24 Jun 09

My family & I have always had great dealings with Canberra Hospital ED, when I had asthma 9 years ago I was put in a bed within 30 minutes & waited 2 hours for a bed in the childrens ward.

Over the past year my mother has been in CH ED a few times & has always got a bed as soon as she went in & was seen quickly & once even went into ICU pretty quick. The staff were great, but for some reason I always want to faint when I was visiting her in acute care part of ED.

miz 8:29 pm 24 Jun 09

Children do seem to get VIP treatment, though – esp babies. Not saying this is wrong, but perhaps it gives a slightly more favourable view of the waiting times – trust me, it stops once they hit the teen years!

That said, ED staff are brill and all deserve a medal.

grunge_hippy 8:23 pm 24 Jun 09

i recently went to the ED, and also have nothing but praise. they were awesome. people who sit and whine about not being seen when they have a head cold should be shot.

kean van choc 7:01 pm 24 Jun 09

So very glad you posted this story Deezagood. I’m currently writing a letter to the Canberra Hospital to praise the staff of ED, the Registrar Review Clinic and the Plastics Area in relation to the caring, empathic and professional treatment I had from al the nurses (and Doctors) in those areas after i recently sustained a serious burn. They deserve nothing but praise.

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