War veteran calls triple-0 from own hospital bed
EXCLUSIVE by Neil Keene
The Daily Telegraph April 05, 2010
AN 87-year-old war veteran had to use his own mobile phone to call triple-0 from his hospital bed because he couldn't get help from nursing staff.
Asbestosis sufferer Kevin Park was left languishing in Lismore Base Hospital earlier this month after waking in, in the middle of the night, soaked in sweat.
Patients on the ward were forced to use archaic brass bells to get attention after the paging system failed. A nurse initially tended to Mr Park but no one bothered to help him change out of his soaked hospital gown, so he tried ringing his bell again to get someone back.
Scared, confused and alone, Mr Park was at his wit's end after 45 minutes of ringing when he finally decided to call triple-0 on his mobile.
"I didn't know what was going on. It hadn't happened to me before and I wasn't even sure whether it was blood or sweat," he said from his hospital bed yesterday.
"Desperate people do desperate things. In the end I rang the emergency telephone number to ask them to get me out of here and somewhere where I would get some attention."
Only after his telephone call of desperation went through to an operator did a nurse finally appear, but Mr Park's ordeal did not end there.
The nurse took his phone, returning it later that night with its SIM card and battery removed.
"Taking my phone was, to me, the biggest offence," Mr Park said.
"To me it's thieving. You can't ring out on the phones they have here so that mobile phone was my only access to the outside world."
A North Coast Area Health Service spokeswoman said staff took Mr Park's phone to prevent other patients being disturbed in the middle of the night. "NCAHS has apologised for any distress that may have been caused to Mr Park and his family," she said.
"The nurse call system on Ward C8 was identified as faulty (but) the emergency part of the system is still operative."
The spokeswoman said a replacement system would be installed later this month.
Mr Park, who served with the RAAF in World War II, was admitted to hospital last month suffering a lung condition.