It was a routine GP appointment but I was told to go over to the Daylesford Hospital take an overnight bag “just in case”.
On arrival I was greeted warmly and directed to a bed in the Acute Care Waiting room. Shortly after the on call doctor appeared and after a short consultation, said I needed to go to Ballarat Base Hospital. They organised an ambulance and the attending nurse asked if I had an overnight bag. Despite the rain she insisted that she go and get it from my car, fortunately parked at the kerb, close to the main entrance.
On arrival at Ballarat Hospital, the cheerful ambos delivered me through the rain to the entrance of Respiratory Emergency and, pausing in the corridor, they were directed to a solitary kitchen chair in the cold, draughty corridor. With raised eyebrows they made sure I was ok and took off in the wind and rain to another call.
After two hours, with a cold draft every time the external door opened, and not even eye contact from the various staff moving about, I got up and went to the Triage window to ask about progress. I was told, “Oh you have been triaged; we are waiting for a bed in emergency ….”
After another half hour I was called to a bed in emergency, where I sat for many more hours. A sympathetic but busy nurse offered me a cup of tea, bless her. Finally, an emergency consultant (by the monogram on his scrubs) arrived and said he was arranging a CT scan for 3.00am. “And now I’m going home.” There was no information as to why the CT scan was needed. The scan was attempted and abandoned, with apologies, because they could not confirm some medical details. I told her that she could get the required information next door at St. John of God Hospital. The scan was eventually done at 9.00am next morning. Back to Emergency. The emergency consultant returned to say the scan was clear and discharge was arranged for 5.00pm. I was still in the emergency bed. No cup of tea or water was offered. I returned to Daylesford Hospital by ambulance at 5.00pm to be greeted immediately, ushered to a bed in a large, spotless and tranquil room, by the nurse on duty. I was immediately brought dinner, and a longed for cup of tea, a shower and my own fresh nightie. On Saturday morning I was caringly discharged, by the doctor on call after a night of feeling welcome, cared for, and with a plan going forward.
I found our local hospital was warm, clean, tranquil, welcoming, caring, efficient and above all, safe.
I learned my re-admission to Daylesford after thirty six hours in Emergency at Ballarat was the day after the extraordinary storm which closed all roads in and out of Daylesford. The nurse told me that she was the only registered nurse able to access the morning shift, with the help of two students asleep across the road. Administrative staff arrived after assessing the situation. Locals came forth cooking for aged care patients and other general admissions like me.
Nobody knew what the Hospital needed to be prepared for at 7 a.m. that morning. Would it be major injuries from SES personnel? Serious vehicle accidents? Traumatised children? Frail, aged and disabled people all around the Shire?
We must not let this vital facility be lost to our community for need of an upgrade. It has been faithfully, dutifully rising to any occasion since 1860.