Mother drove son 110km after A&E ‘fell apart’

A traumatised mother told yesterday of how she had to drive more than 110km to a Cork hospital with her injured son after he had been left unattended for three hours at an emergency department in Kerry.

Mother drove son 110km after A&E ‘fell apart’

Cathal Enright sustained nose and facial injuries after the nine-year-old’s head smashed the windscreen of a parked car at his home in Kilmorna, Co Kerry, on Monday evening.

The schoolboy had jumped on the car bonnet and was trying to climb on to the roof when his hand slipped and his face went through the windscreen, according to his mother, Mairéad Enright.

He was bleeding heavily and she set off with him on a 30-minute journey to Kerry General Hospital (KGH) in Tralee. She put wet cloths around his forehead and eyes to stem the bloodflow.

On entering the hospital’s emergency department at around 7.30pm, she saw a sign saying there was a minimum 10-hour wait due to staff shortages. Her son started bleeding profusely, leaving blood all over the waiting area. A man started “hammering” on a nurses’ room door to get attention for the boy.

Ms Enright said she continued to do her best to deal with Cathal and picked shards of glass from his face. After some time, a nurse gave her a roll of bandages, plaster, and wet gauze which she use to dress his wounds in a bathroom, she described as “dirty”, with the toilet blocked.

“I’m not a nurse, but I was the only one to give him a bit of aid — no one else touched him,” she said.

She claimed she was told to clean up her son as the staff were too busy and had no time to deal with him.

The mother became increasingly concerned and, having been told it would be at least 4am before he would be examined, she decided to drive to Cork University Hospital (CUH). They left KGH at around 10.30pm and arrived in CUH at 12.30am.

He was seen by a doctor after a 10-minute wait in the emergency department, had his wounds cleaned, and shards of glass removed. He also had an X-ray and a check for brain injury. He was seen by a plastic surgeon at CUH on Tuesday morning, and is due for surgery today.

“We’re very thankful for the way Cathal was cared for at CUH, but we don’t hold any staff member in Tralee responsible — it’s the system that’s broken there. It’s overwhelmed and fell apart,” Ms Enright said.

Cathal’s grandmother Margaret Wynne, a retired nurse living in Ballyduff, Co Kerry, said bleeding as well a check for concussion always got priority in an emergency department. “This job may have changed radically but the basics remain the same. All that’s needed is a good, old-fashioned, ward sister —they got control of a situation and got things moving. That child went through hell and his mother went through twice as much hell,” she said.

Ms Wynne said the situation at management level needed to change at KGH.

Ms Enright, meanwhile, is confident Cathal will make a good recovery. “Luckily, his eyes escaped injury and the main injury seems to be to his nose.”

Up to late last evening, there was no comment from the HSE.

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