Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
ABC News
ABC News

Cancer patient with chest pain waits hours for treatment at Royal Adelaide Hospital dealing with COVID-19 sufferers

Tara and Leeanne Winston waited for hours among other patients at the Royal Adelaide Hospital emergency department last night. (Supplied)

A young woman with cancer has waited hours to be treated in the emergency department in an example of how the influx of COVID-19 patients is affecting Adelaide hospitals.

A record number of people with COVID-19 is in South Australian hospitals, prompting the state government to appoint an COVID acute commander yesterday, open new COVID wards, recruit student nurses to work in hospitals and move some patients to country hospitals.

Tara Winston, 18, who has Hodgkin's lymphoma, developed chest pain yesterday afternoon and was told by her oncologist to go to the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) where should could get an ECG to measure the electrical signals in her heart, along with blood tests and x-rays.

The specialist gave Tara and her mother Leeanne a note saying she should be seen within 30 minutes and the tests should be done within two hours.

Instead, it took an hour for the ECG to be done and then another three hours for the other tests to be conducted because of the high demand on staff.

Tara (right), who is immunocompromised, went to the emergency department after developing chest pains. (ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)

"There is a time period that she needs to be seen within — like a 30-minute time period — and then within two hours these other tests must be done and that hasn't happened," Leeanne Winston, from Mount Barker, said last night.

Tara was treated in a hospital corridor and waited in the makeshift area for another two and a half hours before she went home.

A woman near them in the emergency department mentioned she was COVID-positive but after being taken to the toilet by a staff member was then returned to among the rest of the inpatients. 

"That's how serious it is and we've had to sit here for four hours with that."

Emergency departments over capacity

Central Adelaide Local Health Network (CALHN), which is responsible for the RAH, is facing a peak COVID demand in their emergency departments.

A CALHN spokeswoman apologised to patients experiencing delays and thanked them for their patience.

"Usually those who are COVID positive and high priority presentations would be taken to a separate cubicle and would avoid a lengthy wait in the waiting area," she said.

The emergency department at the Royal Adelaide Hospital . (ABC News)

Almost all of Adelaide's emergency departments were over capacity on Friday, with a total of 119 patients waiting for an inpatient bed.

In response, the state government announced that surgical post-operative areas at the RAH would temporarily be converted to hospital wards to accommodate COVID-19 patients.

The major tertiary hospital will open another COVID-specific ward, the third this week.

New COVID-19 modelling released on Tuesday predicted that more than 400 South Australian adults might need hospitalisation for the virus in the next week as new daily cases peak at 7,000.

As of yesterday, 358 people with COVID-19 were in South Australian hospitals.

Risk of long COVID accumulates with reinfection, says Norman Swan.
Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.