‘He had such big plans’: man dies during hospital transfer to Cork

Farmer (39) was being taken from Waterford University Hospital to Cork

Thomas Power on his wedding day to his wife  Bernadette  last September.

Thomas Power on his wedding day to his wife Bernadette last September.

 

The HSE has confirmed that a man has died while being transferred from University Hospital Waterford to Cork University Hospital on Sunday afternoon.

Thomas Power (39), a farmer from Bell Lake near Dunmore East, was admitted to University Hospital Waterford “with a pain in his chest”, according to his sister Catherine Power.

She said her brother died of cardiac arrest 30 minutes after leaving the hospital in an ambulance.

In a statement, University Hospital Waterford confirmed “a male patient who was in transit yesterday (18th June) to Cork University Hospital following an initial assessment at its emergency department was pronounced dead on arrival at Cork University Hospital.”

It extended its deepest sympathies to his family.

Ms Power said her brother had driven himself to the hospital but it was decided to send him to Cork as there was not adequate cardiac facilities at the Waterford hospital over the weekend.

Ms Power claimed her brother’s death would have been prevented if the hospital’s cath lab was open during weekends. A cath lab is where angiograms are performed, along with scheduled and emergency stenting. The absence of a night service in the southeast means emergency patients have to be rushed by ambulance, or helicopter when available, to Dublin or Cork.

‘The facilities are there’

“That cath lab sitting there, he could be here with us today or in the hospital and we would be going in visiting him,” Ms Power told RTÉ Radio 1’s Liveline programme. “Pay the staff, open up [the cath lab], the facilities are there.”

Ms Power said her family travelled to Cork University Hospital to identify Mr Power’s body and “have our goodbyes”.

“It took us three hours to get down to Cork and I was like, how is an ambulance meant to get down here on these bad roads and we’ve a cath lab in Waterford sitting there empty for the weekends?”

Ms Power said her brother’s wife, Bernie, is pregnant.

She described Mr Power as “a healthy man” and said “this shouldn’t have happened”.

“He had such big plans, he was only getting going in life, his wife Bernie, they were only married nine months . . . They were getting their house nearly finished, couldn’t wait to move in.”

Cardiac services

The decision not to provide 24/7 cardiac services in the southeast was made on clinical grounds and should not be altered for political reasons, Minister for Health Simon Harris has said.

Asked about the death of Mr Power while being transported by ambulance to Cork, Mr Harris said he didn’t know the details of the case and couldn’t comment on individual cases.

He stressed he had to follow clinical advice in the provision of services, and had done so in relation to cardiac services at University Hospital Waterford.

Campaigners in the southeast have been seeking a second catheterisation lab, or cath lab, at the hospital to treat people with serious heart conditions and ensure provision of a round-the-clock service. The existing cath lab is the only one in the State that operates part time.

‘Absolutely preventable’

The South East Patient Advocacy Group extended their condolences to the wife and family of the late Thomas Power. “We are deeply saddened and shocked that another young life has been lost due to the lack of 24/7 cardiac care service in the southeast region,” the group said in a statement.

“We understand that Mr Power’s death was absolutely preventable.” The group called on TDs in the southeast, the Minister for Health, the Taoiseach and the Department of Health to implement 24/7 emergency cardiac care at the hospital.