The treatment provided by University Hospital Galway to a woman who ran into difficulties while hiking in Connemara has attracted sharp criticism.
Maria Duk, a tourist who had been staying at the Ben Lettery Hostel in Clifden, was transferred to UHG by Mountain Rescue – suffering with suspected hypothermia – on Tuesday evening last.
Maria commended the work of the Mountain Rescue Team and the Gardaí – but said she didn’t receive proper treatment when she reached the hospital.
“I stayed there for eight hours – they didn’t give me anything, no clothes to change into, the blanket I had was very thin.
“I was extremely wet – nothing was dry on me.
“I tried to speak to the nurses many times and I told them I was very cold – I asked them were they going to do anything and they just said to wait and someone will take care of you,” Maria told Keith Finnegan.
Maria, who lives in Colchester, England, began hiking at 12pm on Tuesday and weather conditions were good – however by 2pm, they had taken a turn for the worst causing her to turn back.
By 2.30pm, visibility was so poor that Maria said she could no longer navigate the mountain and tried calling 999.
Poor service and miscommunication with the operator meant that Maria had to contact Stephanie Dick, the owner of the hostel at which she was staying.
Stephanie contacted Gardaí who in turn sent Mountain Rescue out to the find Maria.
When found, she was air lifted to the hospital. Following initial assessment by the nurses, she was left to wait on a chair in the Emergency Department.
“I was cold and I was shivering – they kept telling me that I would have an appointment.
“I was waiting for ages with no money, my phone was dead until they charged it and I was crying because I didn’t know what to do,” said Maria.
It was there where she fell asleep in her wet clothes and awoke at 6.30am on Wednesday morning, she explained.
Maria, who is originally from Poland, decided that there was no point waiting in the hospital any longer and set about getting back to her hostel.
She had no money at this point because the Mountain Rescue Team had her rucksack and so she had to contact a friend for bank details to purchase a ticket for the Clifden bus.
She walked from UHG to the Coach Station, still in her wet clothes, before boarding the 8.30am bus – arriving back to her hostel at 10am.
Speaking to the Galway City Tribune, Stephanie said that the treatment Maria received was “nothing short of criminal”.
“She was left in wet clothes, without tea and the blanket she had was given to her by the mountain rescue team.
“I am outraged because this is a young woman, travelling by herself and for her to be treated like this – I am absolutely livid.”
When contacted for comment, UHG stated: “Unfortunately, the hospital cannot comment on the circumstances relating to an individual patient”.
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