Injured patient's plea for more help

By Sarah Harris

Mihi Ellis is frustrated at the lack of home help available to her after a treatment injury has rendered her unable to take care of herself. Photo / Dean Purcell
Mihi Ellis is frustrated at the lack of home help available to her after a treatment injury has rendered her unable to take care of herself. Photo / Dean Purcell

The woman who says she had her life stripped of joy after a medical mishap is seeking home alterations and extended home help.

Two investigations into Mihi Ellis' case continue after she had invasive heart surgery when a minor operation went wrong about two months ago.

The Health and Disability Commissioner is reviewing the family's complaint and an internal inquiry within Waitemata District Health Board is ongoing.

Ellis' daughter Lynda Stevens this week told the Herald on Sunday that they have had no apology since her mother returned from hospital a month ago.

But Ellis, aged 76, was reassessed by the DHB on Thursday and her and her family hope the assesment will lead to further help.

The family have asked for 12 hours of home help, assistance to get the downstairs shower fixed so Ellis can avoid the stairs and to keep a specialised hospital bed.

Stevens said they hoped to find out the outcome of the request next week.

Ellis went into North Shore Hospital in July to get a dialysis catheter line inserted in her chest due to her diabetes. But it went wrong and two of her arteries were cut.

Ellis was rushed to Auckland City Hospital where a senior surgeon repaired her heart, which involved breaking the sternum. She was then transported back to North Shore Hospital after surgery.

The Herald on Sunday revealed her case on September 11.

Ellis ended up in hospital for seven weeks, the stay was extended because she contracted a superbug and had to be isolated.

She arrived home in late August unable to take care of herself as she could previously.

A Waitemata DHB needs assessment originally allocated them two hours a week of home help. But Stevens said that's not nearly enough to cook, clean, shop and shower her mother.

ACC senior media adviser Stephanie Melville said Ellis' case said any new request for assistance would be assessed.

Waitemata District Health Board chief medical officer Dr Andrew Brant said its investigation into the case was nearing completion.

He said the DHB supported the application to ACC for treatment injury but they were not the decision-maker in the assessment process.

"The DHB has already offered home support and we continue to work with Mrs Ellis to ensure we are providing an appropriate level of support."

- Herald on Sunday

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