We often read and hear about the negative regarding our health care, and in particular that in relation to our local hospital in Letterkenny. I feel it very important, as do my family, that we highlight the positive experience and care that we experienced there over the past number of months. Although our story has a truly sad ending with the passing of our father, we could not fault the care and dedicated attention that he, and we, received in one ward at the hospital – The Short Stay ward.

It was the morning of Wednesday 28th August this year that I received the news that Dad was unwell and was going to Letterkenny University Hospital. Myself, my sister and my brother were all in Tenerife nearing the end of our summer holiday. My youngest son telephoned around 9.30am telling us that he was going to the hospital with his granda, our Dad. Initially we were all very concerned and then when his ECG showed clear, we were able to relax and enjoy the last few days of the holiday.

My Dad remained in A and E overnight that Wednesday. He was diagnosed with a lung/chest infection and was admitted on the Thursday morning to the Short Stay Ward at Letterkenny University Hospital. We had all returned home on the Saturday and were straight up to visit on the Sunday. There we found Dad content and happy and actually enjoying his hospital experience. The staff at Short Stay ward were giving him way too much attention!!

As the days went by and more tests were carried out, Dad was to be diagnosed with Cancer. It was going to be terminal. We were told this news in a very delicate, intimate and extremely professional and private manner. A member of the Short Stay ward nursing team was with us as the Medical Doctor gave us the news. Devastation swept through our family. But how they spoke to Dad and to us, was so touching and at all times supportive.

From that day in September until Dads discharge after 6 weeks in hospital, in the Short Stay Ward, we saw nothing but dedicated care and constant attention to our Dad. As a family, and myself in particular, we became part of the ward, and part of the caring family there.

Dad was cared for not only by the nurses there, but the domestic staff, the canteen staff, the shop staff. Everyone who was on that ward was part of his care. And at no time, was there any wavering of negative attributes to this care.

When Dad was discharged from this ward, he was so glad to be going home, but a little piece of him was very upset. He was so emotional saying ‘Goodbye’ to everyone on that ward. And they were likewise with him. One of the ladies even walked him out and helped him into the car.

Little did we know we would be back in that very ward in just two weeks time. Dad was only home two weeks when he took very unwell. I travelled by ambulance with him on that Monday night which was in fact the busiest night ever at LUH emergency room. Again, he was cared for at every turn and seen to as soon as it was possible. Everything that could have been done for Dad on that night, was done. It was rather apt that early the next day, he was again admitted to the Short Stay Ward.

By Wednesday, Dad had taken a serious turn for the worse. We knew that evening that the end was near. In a strange and lovely way, it really was rather apt that he was again back in The Short Stay ward at LUH. Over the next two days, Dad fell asleep. He wasn’t to wake up again. As we, his family sat by his side, the nursing staff continued to make him comfortable constantly. They ensured we were comfortable, had food, sleeping areas, and constant care.

Until the very end of Dads days that week, the staff at Short Stay Ward in LUH provided Dad, and us, with care that we will never forget. Names such as Martin, Michelle, Louise and so many others, will hold a very special place in our hearts forever. They ensured that our Dad was comfortable and allowed to die with dignity and constant support. We will all be forever grateful to them for that.

The Pastoral Care team, who are based on this ward, also provided us with amazing support during these past few days. Support we really needed.

With so much sadness in our family just now, we feel it very important to let people know that our sadness is stil immersed with gratitude to these people.

If Dad were here today, he’d agree completely with all of the above. One day, we will thank you folk properly, but for now we just have our words. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

GMcC and family x