UNIVERSITY Hospital Waterford (UHW) has issued an apology to the family of the late Paula Bergin whose first anniversary occurs this week.
Paula (48), from 66 Cannon Street and formerly Rice Park, died on Sunday June 29th 2014 in a noisy public ward at UHW surrounded by men who were watching a World Cup match.
“We are disappointed that in Paula’s last few hours we as an organisation were unable to afford her the dignity she deserved and we apologise sincerely for this,” said a spokesperson for UHW Patient Services.
The hospital said there were no single rooms available at the time of Paula’s death nor were there any patients suitable to move from a single room.
“We have acknowledged that this is not the standard of care for a patient requiring end of life care,” the spokesperson stated.
As a result of the Bergin family’s experiences, the hospital has developed new guidelines titled ‘Guidelines on the Management and Care of a Patient who requires an appropriate environment for End of Life Care’.
However, a definitive commitment has not been made to provide a dedicated room for end of life care according to Independent TD John Halligan who has been assisting the Bergin family.
“The document is not definitive enough,” said Deputy Halligan. “The hospital has an obligation to ensure that a room is available for people who are dying.”
He added: “We need a dedicated room, or a number of rooms, put aside. We’re talking about the last few hours of a human being’s life. If people want to say a prayer, what privacy do they have? Everyone around them can hear what they’re saying.”
John Halligan continued: “We are grateful to the hospital for meeting us on two occasions and they have put together a comprehensive document. Both my office and Stan’s family have studied the document and we are looking for substantial amendments to the document.
“The people of the south east need to know that if a relation or friend is dying they can die in peace and with dignity in an environment where they are no obstructions.”
A number of other issues have been addressed in the report on the investigation into Mr Bergin’s concerns.
The UHW spokesperson said “lessons have been learnt” as a result of the concerns which were expressed by the Bergin family.
Since the Bergin’s story was publicised locally and nationally, the family, along with Deputy Halligan, have been inundated with calls.
“I can’t believe the amount of calls we’re after getting,” said Deputy Halligan. “I’m dealing with families in mid-County Waterford, Waterford City, West Waterford and Kilkenny who have all experienced similar situations to Stan Bergin.”
Mr Bergin said the circumstances of his wife’s death caused deep upset for the family, especially the couple’s daughter Kim who was aged just 10 at the time of her mother’s death.
“When Kim was trying to say her last goodbye to her Mammy, and when Paula was struggling to say her final words, there were men shouting and roaring in the ward,” he said.
Mr Bergin now hopes that the hospital will definitely address the issue of providing dedicated rooms for patients requiring end of life care and their families.