Can one ever get it right?

by Symptom Advice on February 22, 2012

After starting off this year with a horrid bang, a double fatality on New Year’s Day followed by a political crisis that is still far from resolved, we will, like it or hate it, thank our lucky stars that Eurovision exists. this will, for a few brief evenings, take our minds off Arab springs and deadly cold snaps!

… the Emergency Department must look like a scene out of Dante’s Inferno at this period of the year- Kenneth Zammit Tabona

Yes; life goes on, with or without Lawrence Gonzi or Joseph Muscat playing politics because a rebellious and obviously rebellious backbencher got off his sit-upon to deliver some home truths in such a way as to rock both the Nationalist and the Labour boats.

So, as we concentrate on Kurt Calleja’s delivery and interpretation of this is the Night, we can put the politicos on the back burner… or can we?

I am quite convinced that, should Malta lose yet again, the PL supporters will blame Tonio Borg’s foreign policy while the PN will somehow invent some convoluted reason to blame Dr Muscat. Alternattiva supporters will probably say that they could have performed better themselves but that nobody gave them the chance to!

I am very much a believer in solutions and not problems per se. one of my greatest mentors was the late Judge Riccardo Farrugia who was chairman of Mid Med Bank between 1989 and 1992 and in whose secretariat I worked. Dr Farrugia’s affability and charm was coupled with a razor-sharp and analytical brain that was invariably able to strike at the root of any problem and, because of his positive disposition, immediately propose not one, not two but several solutions.

If only life could always be like that. I am recounting this appreciation of this exceptional man because I thought of him so much while reading the long list of grievances put forward by 60 nurses about Mater Dei Hospital. It does not contain one little hint of a proposal to solve these very serious lacunae in the set-up that is detrimental both to the nurses themselves and, even more, the thousands of patients who are served each and every day for free or, rather, at the expense of those who pay taxes.

The fly in the ointment is always the Emergency section wherein, as I have observed several times previously, there seem to be more security personnel than medical. no wonder, when the infrastructure seems far from ideal with as many as 30 per cent of patients ending up there who should never have been there at all. Not to mention that nobody has either the time or inclination to give anyone, least of all agitated sick people and their even more agitated loved ones, any logical and acceptable reason for the never-ending wait.

I have said it before and I will say it again, all that entire place needs is good management and some empathic interaction between the nursing staff and the patients. they must understand that no matter what pressure they are under, a smile costs nothing and a two-minute explanation can go a long way to allay mounting tensions, which is what being at Emergency is all about.

The Riccardo Farrugia solution is so beautifully logical and simple and, yet, nobody has had the gumption to implement it and, therefore, the system limps on. It gets worse and worse in times like these when pernicious germs are aided and abetted by cold snaps that take their toll on the very old and the very young.

Of course, the Emergency Department must look like a scene out of Dante’s Inferno at this period of the year. However, I have confidence in our medical and nursing staff as we need not read about the unsung heroism of the medical and nursing staff during the cholera epidemic in Naples, as unforgettably described by a great author like Axel Munthe in his story of San Michele, but simply recall what we have just seen broadcast on the international newsrooms. we saw interviews with doctors and nurses working round the clock in war-torn countries like Libya in which our own compatriots were heavily involved. they are unsung heros.

This is why the system needs to be re-examined. For all it’s worth I will share a small personal experience, which may indicate what is radically wrong with the system.

About a year ago, I developed an allergic reaction after having eaten a piece of toast with processed tuna paste spread. I was alone at home and suddenly my head started to pound horribly, my body was gripped by a dry heat and when I looked in the mirror my skin had gone the colour of Roman terracotta.

I immediately looked up the symptoms on the internet and, lo and behold, it homed in on the tuna straightaway and said that what I needed was an antihistamine injection ASAP. So I jumped into my car and dashed off to the polyclinic in G?ira to be told that they had no antihistamine injections. I was told that to have this injection I was to go to Floriana. “Righty-ho,” said I, still looking like Sitting Bull with petards going off in my head, “I’ll go to Floriana.”

Till that moment they did not realise that I had driven myself but now they panicked and expressly forbade me to drive at all as they said I could choke… So not having an ambulance at their disposal I had to try various relatives on a late Sunday night till one of them came to take me to Floriana by which time, thankfully, the allergic reaction was on the wane.

I could have saved myself all this hassle by having driven myself to Mater Dei’s Emergency where, presumably, they must have stashes of antihistamines but because I did not think what I had was serious enough I didn’t and, consequently, drew the short straw.

One can never get it right, can one?

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