A HUNTLY family believes a better bedside manner from an emergency department doctor could have seen their son receive essential medical care for his pneumonia several hours earlier than it arrived, after they were turned away from Bendigo Hospital.
Craig and Pim Simeon said their three-year-old son Ethan was eventually diagnosed at Bendigo Health after an X-ray revealed his lungs were filling with fluid and he was transferred to the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne for surgery.
However, the couple said they were treated dismissively at the Bendigo Hospital when they first presented with their son during the daytime on June 8.
"We waited for three hours in the A and E respiratory area, the doctor examined Ethan for about two minutes and then said 'you should not be here - you should have gone to your GP'," Mr Simeon said.
The family followed the advice to take their son home and give him Panadol and Neurofen but his coughing worsened and his breathing deteriorated. They returned to the hospital, at the insistence of a nurse friend, the following day, and he was promptly admitted.
Bendigo Health has come under fire for the wait times in the emergency department respiratory area, with a 74-year-old retired nurse complaining that she had waited from 10:40am Thursday until 3:15pm before leaving without being seen by a doctor. The woman said a nurse had told waiting patients: "we only have one doctor on today and if you want to wait it will be another six hours".
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"I don't know what the staffing was in the ED yesterday," he said.
"The staffing varies from shift to shift. The respiratory ED is a small area set aside for people with respiratory illness. If there is demand, our staff move resources around to where they may be required - so I am less concerned about how many doctors or nurses there may have been in a specific area.
"What I'm concerned about is that our staff make the greatest effort they can under very challenging circumstances to do their best job."
Mr Faulkner said he couldn't go into the specifics of any patient's experiences due to privacy constraints, but we would welcome contact from the patients.
"We have adequate staff - the problem is that from day to day there are areas of illness - there are absences that are unplanned," he said.
"It's a bit like playing wack-a-mole. It may be in this department today, that department tomorrow or on night shift. People get unwell and they need to stay home and get themselves well."
Mr Faulkner said Thursday had been the busiest day in the emergency department for a long time.
"Yesterday we had an increased number of people presenting to our emergency department and quite a number of additional emergency presentations via ambulance," he said.
"For those waiting in the waiting room they don't always know that there are more urgent cases coming in via ambulance and sometimes it is hard to understand why they need to wait so long.
"I can only assure our community that our staff are doing their absolute best but just like all of us they are equally exposed to respiratory illnesses, the COVID disease and staffing remains a very challenging factor for us."
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