Auckland DHB Chief Executive Ailsa Claire has experienced what it's like to be a patient at Auckland City Hospital.
On 4 January I fell off the garage roof at home.
One of the questions people immediately ask is what were you doing up there?
To justify myself I want to point out we are on tank water and collect our water from the roof, so it needs cleaning every year. However, having seen the stats about people falling off ladders and falling from heights, I now recognise that it is best left to the experts!
The reason for telling this story is not just to encourage you not to take such risks, therefore preventing personal injury and the use of our Emergency Department but because I want to describe my experience as a patient at Auckland DHB.
So here’s what happened –
As I was sliding down the roof I attempted to put my feet into the gutter to stop me from falling off the roof, this resulted in me flipping over and falling to the ground, landing on my back on paving stones and gravel.
Although I hit my head I didn’t lose consciousness and three members of my family were immediately beside me. As well as two very anxious dogs who had to be restrained from licking my face and whining. They, the family not the dogs, recognised I needed to be left to recover and knew not to move me.
Once I had recovered enough to think straight I knew I had hurt my back and needed an ambulance.
That was the start of a process where I was treated with amazing kindness and professionalism. This reinforced for me what we all know – it’s not just what you do but the way you make people feel.
At all stages of my journey from St John arriving, the ambulance journey, my time in our Emergency Department at Auckland City Hospital and my stay on ward 77 I was kept informed about what was happening and was listened to. My daughter and son’s concerns were also listened to, they were kept informed and this helped to reduce their anxiety.
My pain was controlled and my dignity respected at all times.
The ambulance crew took the time to deal with me being sick. There were also issues with pain control – they had difficulties getting a line in and I was unable to take a deep breath because of pain, making inhaled pain relief difficult.
I arrived in the Emergency Department at a very busy time and although there was a lot of waiting around at all times I always knew what the next step was and I experienced professional, people offering the best professional care under pressure.
I was efficiently assessed and monitored.
The ward was busy and probably the last thing they needed late on a Saturday night was the CEO turning up.
Throughout every step of my journey I experienced our values in action. Everyone, from the nurses to the doctors, the radiotherapists, physiotherapists and the orderlies were amazing. I was treated with the utmost kindness and I felt cared for. I cannot say enough how important that was to me and my family.
Clinically I was incredibly lucky, ending up with a fractured T6 vertebrae, a cracked rib, a very sore shoulder, various abrasions and a cut on my head.
The bruising is going and now it is just a case of allowing time to recover.
I have always been incredibly proud of the care we provide for our patients, especially when we are under pressure and now I have a personal reason to be grateful – thank you!
Never underestimate how important the support you all provide to our patients is and how your actions make people feel.
Chief Executive, Auckland DHB