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Hospital was the best place to be

Alan Ebdale

You have to have faith in health professionals as they know more than you do, says a Gisborne man hospitalised after suffering cardiovascular events during the alert level 4 lockdown last month.

“The service I received from my GP, the doctors at Gisborne Hospital, and the specialist nurse have exceeded all expectations,” says PAK’nSAVE produce manager Alan Ebdale.

Three weeks ago Mr Ebdale had just got home from work when his left hand clamped up and his speech became slurred. He was checked over by ambulance staff but went to work the next day feeling fine.

Later that afternoon, having just knocked the top off a beer, he took a call from his City Medical Centre GP telling him to go directly to the hospital.

“I have to admit I looked at the beer, looked at the phone, and thought, really? Now?”

To his surprise, Mr Ebdale was admitted to hospital for three days and underwent a variety of tests revealing that he had a new irregular heartbeat, heart failure, and was at high risk of a heart attack. 

“There are four main things that can go wrong with the heart and he had three of them,” says Mr Ebdale’s cardiology nurse specialist Kristen Willock.

Once discharged Ms Willock was responsible for Mr Ebdale’s outpatient care and like many people in his situation he was now on medication and starting to make a number of lifestyle changes. 

It was important Ms Willock stay up to date with any physical changes Mr Ebdale might experience while on a series of the new medication. Changes in heart rate or blood pressure, for example, would indicate there needed to be changes to his medication – something Ms Willock could do as she is a clinical nurse specialist with prescribing rights. 

Under normal circumstances the tests and any medication tweaks are done during an outpatient visit. But outpatient visits to the hospital weren’t available during the alert level 4 lockdown. 

Instead, Mr Ebdale received phone appointments for education about his heart and information on how to self-manage at home. He was also given a home blood pressure monitor so he could phone in his results and scales so weight loss or gain could be better managed. 

“We have stayed in close contact,” says Ms Willock, who was available to Mr Ebdale whenever he rang the hospital. Medication is vital to someone’s recovery after a heart event and reduces the risk of future problems. But it takes time to see how the body reacts to medicine and Ms Willock needed to stay in touch. 

“Managing patients over the phone is a new way of working. But we have to do it right. Having a nurse at the end of the phone for Alan has been great but he deserves praise too, particularly for making changes to improve his health by making lifestyle changes, taking his medications, and seeking help if not well.  Mr Ebdale has done a lot of the hard work since being discharged.” 

For Mr Ebdale, the service has been seamless. He felt well cared for in the hospital despite the COVID-19 restrictions and considered himself safe managing his own health at home. 

“It has made me feel very special and it’s all been amazing, the whole way. In fact, I would say the service has exceeded my expectation.” 

“Even though I was receiving health care at the same time there was COVID-19 around I didn’t feel nervous. There were fewer patients and hospital was the best place to be.” 

And he hasn’t had a beer since!

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