Sandra’s ED Experience

Roger Fellows sat for hours in the ED waiting room, wondering what was happening with his wife, Sandra, who was very seriously ill in the adjacent area. He wants to know if anything can be done, so family members are better informed, in a timely manner.

Sandra and Roger Fellows, have been through a lot, in the decades they’ve been together (starting from when they were 13 year olds). One of the toughest times for Roger was six  hours he waited in a room off the Emergency Department, wondering  what was happening with Sandra, who he thought was about to  die.

“The girl on the desk was fabulous – she brought me sandwiches and cups of tea, but she didn’t know anything that was going on. It was agony waiting all that time, without knowing, I thought I was going to lose her,” he says.

Roger wants ED staff to find a way to more frequently update families of seriously ill patients.

Wouldn’t you prefer they spend all their time ensuring Sandra survives and is stabilised, instead of taking time out for any reason? we ask Roger.

“The doctors, certainly, but there were four nurses there, couldn’t one of them come to let me know what’s happening. I was really scared,” he says.

Meanwhile, Sandra says the E.D. doctor saved her life when he made the decision to transfer her to Bendigo.

“The staff were fantastic”, Sandra says of her treatment at the SHDH Emergency Department where she was rushed to by ambulance when she suffered a suspected heart attack at their Koraleigh farm.

Now recovered from this latest setback, and back at work on their farm, Sandra wants to pay tribute to the excellent care and attention she received during 14 days of treatment at Swan Hill and Bendigo.

“I was pretty ill, at one stage I was hallucinating really badly, that was a scary time for both me and Roger,” she says.  Soon stabilised and transferred back to the acute ward at Swan Hill, Sandra says the excellent care meant she was well enough to go home in a few days.

They agree there’s just one thing they need to see changed at Swan Hill District Health – aside from COVID restrictions being eased (which they know is not up to the hospital).

“Can the E.D. staff work out a way for partners or families to be updated? Especially when patients are seriously ill. The support staff are terrific and help as much as they can, and we understand the doctors and nurses have to do their work, and they are very busy, but in my case, I really thought I was going to lose her, without knowing what’s happening, for all those hours,” Roger says.

The last words…

“It was a really scary time for me and Roger”

Sandra Fellows, now fully recovered and back working on her farm at Koraleigh

“Can the Emergency Department staff see if it’s possible to update partners and carers more frequently – I waited hours without knowing what was happening.”

– Sandra’s husband, Roger,  says he was really scared, but couldn’t find out what was happening with his wife.

This story has been fed back to the Emergency team so they can assess the process.

This story has been collected as part of the Swan Hill District Health Consumer Stories Project.
If you have a story to tell, or would like to share your experience, please contact the
Quality, Experience and Safety team on 03 5033 9894 or