Vulnerable patient was discharged from St Luke’s wearing only a hospital gown during recent cold snap
By Suzanne Pender
A VULNERABLE Carlow woman was sent home alone in a taxi from St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny wearing only a hospital gown in freezing temperatures, just days after experiencing a serious psychotic episode.
The family of the young woman are utterly appalled that their loved one was sent home in such an undignified way, the flimsy gown barely covering her naked body underneath, while still in desperate need of psychiatric care.
“We were just shocked … where was the care?” her relative asked The Nationalist this week. “If you judge a country by how they treat their most vulnerable, then we are absolute savages.”
“On the Sunday she had a serious psychotic episode at her home; she wrecked the house, the guards were called, there were ambulances outside the house – it was terrible,” said the family.
The woman in her forties, who lives alone, was brought to St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny accompanied by gardaí. Once admitted, the family say the woman was “left on a trolley for days” in A&E and four days later suddenly discharged.
“The four days she was in St Luke’s, no-one from the psych team saw her. Why send her home, when no-one from psych saw her? They know her medical history; she’s been in Greenbank Crisis House, Carlow a number of times before.
“If someone is brought to hospital by gardaí in the middle of a psychotic episode, what are they doing in A&E? They need to be in a psychiatric unit … look what happened to that poor man in the hospital in Cork.”
The family were shocked when, unknown to them, the woman arrived home in a taxi. The soiled clothes she’d been wearing when she arrived at the hospital had been brought home to be washed and she had no other clothes because the family did not know she was to be discharged.
The taxi brought the woman to her aunt’s house to collect her medication, where the aunt was shocked and very upset to see her in such a condition. She was then dropped off by her taxi to her own home, which was still wrecked from the incident days before.
“A woman suffering a mental health breakdown is then sent home in a taxi, in a gown. A vulnerable adult with mental health issues put in a car with a man, a stranger, putting her at risk … putting the taxi driver at risk; she could have grabbed the wheel or anything. It’s a disgrace,” say the family.
“When she got out of the taxi in a hospital gown, it barely covered her at the back; it was minus one degree outside that day. The house was still in bits; imagine her left off on her own there?”
Since she arrived home, the family have contacted various HSE agencies and facilities to voice their absolute abhorrence at what happened. Finally, their pleas were answered and last week the woman was admitted to a stepdown facility, where she will get the services she so desperately needs.
“It looks like it’s now at the stage where they either sedate you within an inch or your life, or you’re left to fend for yourself … left at the risk of suicide,” said the family.
When contacted by The Nationalist, St Luke’s Hospital issued the following statement: ‘St Luke’s General Hospital cannot comment on individual patient cases. Should any patient or family have a serious complaint about the care they have received at the hospital, the hospital has a robust complaints procedure, and all complaints or concerns will be fully investigated and followed up with the family.
‘St Luke’s General Hospital follows all appropriate national guidelines regarding admission and discharge and works closely with its community partners to provide the best and safest possible care pathway to its patients. Like all hospitals throughout the country, St Luke’s General Hospital remains very busy and has experienced significant pressure throughout the last number of weeks.’