OUCH! 9pm on the night before Christmas Eve, and the pain is brief though the single puncture wound is deep. My bloody trail leads from the roll of barbed wire to the ute via the house. I drive myself to the hospital.
I never visited the old Wonthaggi Hospital as a patient. I only knew the quaint old emergency department by reputation, hidden down long corridors in the bowels of the place. But since the new emergency department opened in the new hospital just over two months ago, I seem to have become a little accident prone. I heard that for the first two weeks after it opened they had 40 people in the emergency department waiting room every day. It was like people were there to see the place.
By Vilya Congreave
FIRST, a confession. Part of me misses the “Bush nursing” feel to the original hospital, where in the two front sections one had a view of the tall gathering of gum trees.
You knew everyone by name so the care has always been of a great standard. Plus we miss the voice of Cheryl on the front desk. She was a classic at her job.
But this week, as I entered the new Wonthaggi hospital for a day procedure, I was immediately impressed with the main entrance. I could be excused for thinking I was entering Monash or any large suburban hospital. I was greeted by the security guard who insisted on taking me to the service desk. From there upon registering I was handed over to one of the many volunteers engaged to lead visitors to their destination.
I would have liked more time to take in the newness of everything from the efficient streamlined elevators to the brilliant windows allowing lots of natural light along the way. I was taken along well-lit corridors entering the old section which gave me my bearings as to where we were.
Along the way, I enjoyed the floor-to-ceiling black and white prints of our coastline and history. The lifts have a similar print of The Nobbies. It’s fabulous and eased any trepidation I was feeling.
Anyone who passed us on the way had a welcoming smile and greeting. From the pre-admission to the post-operative area I found all staff to be highly motivated and professional in their duties. I felt totally cared for. Staff did say they were looking forward to this area being upgraded.
Three and a half hours later as I was ready to leave, I was accompanied by another friendly nurse to the service desk. I came home feeling very positive. In the days since then, I’ve had several phone calls enquiring about my health.
Never would I have thought that I could feel so uplifted, especially after a hospital procedure. It really does prove that a smile or a kind word can have such a strong effect on us.
Appearance: From wherever you approach, this hospital shouts “We’re as good as Melbourne!”.
Parking/ Signposting: First time in it’s a tad challenging – both familiar and unfamiliar though you either turn left or right and there’s more parking at the back for allied health. The spots could be bigger given the number of Armageddon 4WDs overhanging the lines.
Reception: Once I manage to ascend the steep stairs, the greeter could not have been more helpful.
9.44pm – Masked and briefed, I head to triage. It’s a busy night. Standing at triage you can’t be seen by reception so there’s a bit of “Have they noticed me?” (They have.)
9.51pm – Triaged, back to the waiting room, six people in front of me plus an ambulance in the mix.
12.02am – The bleeding has stopped; wound bandaged with no need for stitches. But the doctor notices my pinkie, a swollen red mess of infection due to a splinter I have ignored for three days. He queries my diabetes medication and asks how I could ignore that swelling.
They usually just pop out,” I say. I don’t know which brand of diabetes tablet I take or when my next checkup is due. He shakes his head. The subtext of his wordless dismay is that I need to show more interest in my own health.
They can take out the splinter … but it requires an xray. There won’t be anyone in that department for another hour. By the time the xrays are ready it will be around 2am. “We might as well get you a bed in case we have to operate.”
For a splinter? This is getting a little Kafka-esque. I’ve been awake since 5am. Is there another option? Turns out my GP can deal with it after Christmas.
A month later I’m felled by a decoupled trailer around 3.30pm on a Sunday. This time it’s a deep gash in my calf muscle. The blood trails from a jagged lump of metal to the ute then the carport where I take stock. Putting my leg up eases the torrent but there’s a sickening amount of blood congealing around me. Fortunately my wife Leslie takes charge and jumps behind the wheel of her car.
Treatment: Into a room where doctors workshop how to stitch the thing back together. They ask me the same questions about my diabetes medication but seem unperturbed by my answers. Five big stiches with a lot of bandages and I’m soon waiting for the release form and tetanus shot.
Exit Strategy: A total of two hours at the hospital and home in time for dinner by 6pm. Elevate leg, get bandages changed regularly and plan for the stitches to come out in eight days, which is another story.