A patient’s perspective

The other day I was having coffee with Briar Peat – a Senior Medical Officer at Middlemore Hospital.   Briar showed me a letter of thanks she had received from a patient, who had spent eight days recovering from an illness at Middlemore Hospital.   In the letter the patient, who we will call Mr X expressed his gratitude for the professional, kind and caring way he was dealt with by a wide range of health professionals.

As a reminder of just how well Team Counties does, I’ld like to share this letter with you today. Many thanks to Mr X for sharing his remarkable story.


I write a long overdue letter of gratitude for the wonderful care I received after being admitted to Middlemore Hospital in late March 2014.

It was with some trepidation that I entered the doors of Middlemore, as I had been illness free throughout my 66 years of life. All of a sudden I was confronted with a major health issue that my GP had been unable to identify, even after blood tests.

Immediately upon arrival I was sent to the Observation and Assessment Ward, where I was attended to by an English doctor. He promptly persuaded a very reluctant patient that a catheter might accelerate the diagnosis. Can’t say I was thrilled at the prospect, but he was right, as it showed, after a short time that the kidneys were in trouble. Within 48 hours I would be heading for the High Dependency Unit (HDU).

In the evening, on the second day I experienced a sudden and severe shortness of breath and acute stiffness in the body. This triggered a resuscitation team, who were fantastic in their response. Doctors, nurses and it seemed just about everybody was there, either fitting a nebulizer, dispensing oxygen, taking blood or giving verbal support. The team’s efforts succeeded and my first medical emergency was over. I had survived, thanks to the quick thinking of Middlemore staff.

The HDU is a care unit staffed by some of the most competent people one could wish to meet. Not only are they all highly professional, but the cosmopolitan team that looked after me were all, without exception compassionate, courteous and caring. All were first class communicators, who were able to convey a sense of calm and capable proficiency. I experienced that first hand and I am most grateful for their efforts, that in effect saved my life.

During my stay I met numerous senior doctors, who led assessment teams in the search for the identity of my condition. I met several research doctors, who had to prepare the appropriate medication for an unknown medical condition. I recall in particular, three young doctors who set up a mobile workstation in the room and through vigorous discussion between themselves, referrals to I-Pads and manuals, devised a course of medication, which they considered would be effective. How clever was that!

The nurses were wonderful. I met male and female nurses from around the world, all with the same professional attitude. I was cared for by a nurse from the Punjab and one from Ireland. Nurses also from NZ, other parts of India and the Philippines, all committed to their profession and who were able to build a slow but steady sense of confidence in me that recovery was imminent.

I met ultrasound and x-ray staff, all top people and a lovely woman from the hospital laboratory, who was a regular blood taker. She was so good at her job that I never felt her insert a needle. I called her ‘Super Soft Hands’.

One of the younger doctors was excellent at locating veins as a blood source, when no one else could. She was also very capable at conducting painless abstractions. She received the title of ‘Eagle Eye Soft Hands’.

The renal staff were vigilant, with the senior doctor a professional and authoritative figure, monitoring progress with daily visits. A tap here and a tap there, a quick study of notes, then with a nod of the head, indicating satisfaction, he was gone. A man who obviously knows his stuff.

After three or four days of intensive rehydration and intravenous medication, the body responded positively and it was deemed appropriate that I should be discharged from the HDU.

The recovery ward was a great relief as I was able to stretch out on a bed with no more plumbing attached. It was a great feeling to be unplugged from all the tubes and IV lures. Rather like being untethered.

The removal of the catheter caused apprehension, but all went well and it indicated to me, that recovery wasn’t far off.

It was nice to meet new room mates and to speak to visitors in a more casual setting. I enjoyed eating fruit, drinking chilled orange juice and just walking about (shuffle really). Best of all was the freedom to pee into a bottle!

Staff on the ward were, as in other wards, professional and friendly. It felt a little like a hotel, but not quite. Again, a cosmopolitan mix of people ran this ward and as in the HDU all showed a high degree of interest and care.

The appetite returned and I realised that progress was really on the move. I enjoyed a lot of the food prepared by the kitchen service. The dinner menu one evening consisted of the following, and I quote …

“African beans lightly spiced, simmered in coconut cream and served on steamed rice” Was this a restaurant or a hospital?

I must say the meal was delicious and I have enjoyed my wife’s version of it on numerous occasions since. The soups were also delicious and I had some trouble preventing my wife from consuming most of it on her visits.

One morning a nurse arrived with the news that I was to be discharged that afternoon. It was a shock at first. I liked this place with all its attentive, friendly staff and now I was about to leave it all behind. It occurred to me, in a reflective moment, what a wonderful place Middlemore Hospital was and that it was filled with some of the best medical people one could wish for. There appears a camaraderie amongst staff at all levels, which is infectious and permeates through to patients.

I had arrived eight days earlier, chronically unwell with an undiagnosed condition and was now about to leave with the problem identified and dealt with. Leptospirosis (an infectious disease caused by a particular type of bacteria) was responsible for my predicament, but thanks to the research team, doctors and staff at Middlemore a crisis was eliminated and I was now able to return home.

Please forward my thanks to all the staff who were involved in my treatment and recovery.

Today, just the name Middlemore engenders a feeling of warmth and gratitude on my part and I must say it brings a tear to the eye when I think of all those dedicated people who practice their profession with such commitment and care and in doing so save lives – mine being one of them.

Signed a grateful patient


Congratulations to the various staff and teams acknowledged in this letter. Although there are no names mentioned, I’m sure you will know who you are.   Your care of this patient was outstanding and has clearly made a lasting impression on the person involved. Yet another satisfied patient leaving CM Health, thanks to the commitment and compassion of our staff. Well done Team Counties.

On a different note, please don’t forget my ‘Coffee with the CEO’ hour coming up on Thursday 14 August at 10am in the Lecture Theatre, Ko Awatea. It will be great to see you there.

And finally you can now follow my blog on Twitter @cmdhb








Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

One thought on “A patient’s perspective”

  1. Fantastic feedback! Now, how do we build this patients story into a “blue sky” experience for all our patients- suggest we invite this patient on to our patient experience initiatives- we can learn from Great Feedback as well…

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