Pulse Health denies claims, other patients ‘delighted’
PULSE Health, the owner of Gympie Private Hospital, has hit back at complaints about the way the hospital treated an 87-year-old woman requiring eye surgery earlier this month.
The Gympie Times reported on Wednesday a number of allegations from the Gympie daughter-in-law of an elderly woman who underwent eye surgery under a Queensland Health initiative to reduce surgical waiting times by putting patients through the private sector.
Palms resident Donna Frost wrote to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk about the poor treatment she believes her mother-in-law and other elderly eye patients received, particularly the more than five hours many had to wait for their initial consultation, some without a chair, water or assistance.
The matter has now been referred to the Health Ombudsman.
Pulse Health, a specialist and regional private hospital operator, said yesterday it did "not want to get into a slanging match with the disgruntled woman over her claims", but that it "emphatically rejected" them.
"We are surprised and disappointed that a complaint has been made as we have had such wonderful feedback from other patients who have recently underdone similar surgery," Pulse Health managing director and chief executive officer Phillipa Blakey said.
"These people are delighted that their eyesight has been returned and/or improved, and with the excellent care they received from our staff," she said.
"However, we have clearly upset this woman and we always take complaints extremely seriously.
"We have undertaken a full investigation into her claims and haven't been able to substantiate of any of them."
Gympie Private Hospital general manager Helen Chalmers said she was at a loss to understand why Mrs Frost made the accusations.
"As you would expect, we have cross-referenced this particular woman's accusations with our hard-working hospital staff who are obviously very disappointed at the allegations made against them and they cannot be substantiated," Ms Chalmers said.
"One claim was that the complainant's mother-in-law had to wait three hours before receiving her first series of eye drops prior to surgery," she said.
"This is wrong. Our records indicate the patient arrived at the hospital at 12.39pm on Friday for her first cataract extraction procedure and received her pre-operative eye drops at 1.55pm."
Ms Chalmers said when the elderly woman returned the following day for her second cataract removal on the other eye, the operation began at 12.50pm and she was discharged at 2.10pm. On this occasion, on arrival the patient was taken directly into the operating suite to expedite her pre-operative admission process.
"On being discharged, the patient then received written post-operative information including eye drop instructions, the eye shield she was wearing, 'do's and don'ts', an explanation on how her eye would feel after surgery, and a telephone number to contact if there were any concerns - all normal procedure at Pulse hospitals following surgery," Ms Chalmers said.
All of these time frames and procedures are very acceptable and appropriate for the type of surgery undertaken, she said.
The elderly woman is one of 1500 people in the region with long-standing cataract issues - some of whom have been on the public hospital waiting list for up to six years - having their eyes problems fixed/eyesight restored under the Queensland Health initiative.
Ms Chalmers said it was "unfortunate such a positive government initiative had received such inaccurate and misleading information".
"Generally, we are receiving tremendous feedback from people who have been able to have this long-awaited surgery through our Gympie facility," Ms Chalmers said.
"In many cases, people have reported 'getting their lives back' because their eyesight has been restored/improved meaning their quality of life has improved."
Ms Chalmers said Pulse Health would endeavour to contact the disgruntled woman to discuss her concerns.