If Willie Doyle’s daughter had been an hour later getting to Waterford hospital, he doubts if she would be alive today.
“My daughter [Jennifer Pheasey, 41] had a cardiac arrest at 4.30pm on a Friday. We were told that if it had happened an hour later she wouldn’t have survived. I’d be less a daughter, her children would be less a mother, and her husband would be less a wife,” he told the Irish Examiner.
“She had been moving things earlier in the day and thought it was just a muscle pain but she went to her GP. The GP sent her straight over to casualty in Waterford hospital.
“We got a call to say our daughter was dying and to come straight down. She was attended to straight away and had a stent fitted.”
This was two years ago now and, ever since, the family has campaigned as the ‘24/7 Cardiac Cover for the South East’ group.
At the moment, the cardiac unit of University Hospital Waterford (UHW) only operates on a 9am-5pm basis, Monday to Friday.
“If you have a cardiac arrest, it means the blood supply to your heart is interrupted. You need a stent fitted, and you have 90 minutes maximum in which to do that,” said Mr Doyle.
“So if you’re in Dublin, Cork, Galway, or Limerick and you have a cardiac arrest you can be treated 24/7, 365 days of the year.
“But if you’re in the south-east and UHW is your nearest hospital, you can only have a cardiac arrest Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm, that’s when the unit is open.
“When it comes to 5 o’clock, you’ve to go down to Cork. They say you can get down in an ambulance but, to get from the hospital out onto the dual carriageway, the ambulance has to negotiate 14 roundabouts.
“They also say you could go by helicopter but that means having a helicopter on standby from 5 o’clock. And furthermore, there isn’t a helipad in UHW or in Cork.”
Mr Doyle also explained the lack of services is not just an issue for the entire south-east region.
“If you look at the south-east — that’s Wexford, Waterford, city and county, Kilkenny, and south Tipperary; that’s a population of half a million for UHW to cater for. That’s the region,” he said.
“It’s about saving lives in the south-east and it doesn’t matter if you save one life or 10 lives — every life counts.”
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