Advocacy group Migrante-Australia commended Goldfields Medical Director Dr Peter Barratt’s statement of apology to Filipino GP Dr Cesar Sofocado and the hospital reforms in Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital in Western Australia recently.
Dr Sofocado has made public his family trauma regarding the KRH staff negligence of his wife Mary who at the time was undergoing palliative care due to cancer illness.
In a letter to Dr. Sofocado last January 12, Dr. Barratt acknowledged “that medication was not administered regularly enough to your wife to alleviate her distressing cough and that her symptoms of agitation were not adequately controlled.”
Following investigation of Dr Sofocado’s complaints, the medical director reiterated his commitment to improve medical services by recommending provision of staff training using Program of Experience in the Palliative Experience Care (PEPA) methodology.
Dr Barratt also committed the provision of Consultant Palliative Care physicians who will also “provide training and support to nurses and General Practitioners” in the palliative care unit.
Dr. Sofocado has raised alarming concern and filed a complaint to Dr. Barratt in December last year when Mary’s prescribed medication was not given on time by the Kalgoorlie nursing staff and as his family, especially his children had to witness their mother’s pain and suffering. Dr. Sofocado himself was in distress when nursing staff seemed unaware of their responsibility at this critical time.
Migrante-Australia chairperson Butch Kotsakis speaking of the late Mary Sofocado’s gruelling experience with the Kalgoorlie Nursing Hospital said, “Every effort should be done by all staff to fully and promptly attend to the needs of the dying person and with utmost care. They also have to be sensitive to the feelings of the patient and their families during this critical time.”
Dr. Barratt conducted an investigation leading to recommendations and also thanked Dr. Sofocado for “speaking out” about his experience and invited the community to discuss any issues of concern and the progress of the recommendations.
“We hope that diversity awareness workshops will be incorporated in the PEPA methodology to enhance staff cultural sensitivity,” Migrante’s Kotsakis said.
“Will press for results of investigation…”
Following Dr Barratt’s letter of apology, The Filipino Australian contacted Dr Sofocado for comments.
1. With Dr Barrat’s statement of apology, do you consider your case against the hospital closed?
I wanted the results of the investigation conducted by Dr Barratt be made known to me as it concerns my late wife and two children. It was obvious that mistakes were committed by the nursing staffs to my late wife Mary and our family, and yet, those concerned individuals seemed not made accountable and responsible for their negligence in view of their code of professional practice.
I commend Dr Barratt’s apology on behalf of his staff and the strategies he put in place to rectify the substandard medical/nursing practice in the KRH. A Consultant Palliative Care Physician will provide training and support to the GPs and nursing staff including provision of staff training using Program of Experience in the Palliative Experience Care Approach (PEPA) methodology. These are all positive steps toward upgrading medical standard at the KRH.
However, I honestly don’t believe that the nursing staffs concerned were fully aware of the intensity of my family’s trauma resulting from their misconduct and negligence.
I recommend to Dr Barratt to look into the hospital issue in a holistic manner. I am waiting for Dr Barratt to start addressing my family’s trauma by making his nursing staff responsible for their actions.
I feel that a personal letter of apology by the nursing staff is one positive step towards addressing my family’s trauma.
2. Do you have other pending complaints against other organisations or government agencies relating to the hospital negligence on your wife?
At this time, my official complaint is still in the Health and Disability Service Complaint Office (HaDSCO) of the Department of Health. I believe that professional and level headed people can talk and show compassion and respect to each other and I would rather have that space to talk and patch things up and so all parties can move on in a positive direction.
3. What reforms do you expect to see being done by the government or at least by the Kalgoorlie hospital as a result of your complaints?
I support Migrante-Australia’s recommendation of inclusion of a diversity workshop to make the staff culturally aware and sensitive to the needs of Kalgoorlie diverse communities.
I would like to see Dr Barratt organise a cultural diversity workshop where talking and healing can start happening. I would like to see the nursing staff and myself in the workshop where issues can be heard and resolved, where everyone counts and treated with respect, and differences are recognised and accepted. This workshop can be integrated in the Program of Experience in the Palliative Care Approach (PEPA) methodology.
Although still adjusting to his new role as a sole parent ~ working full time as a GP in Aboriginal medical services in Goldfields and a full time father attending to the needs of his young daughters, Sofia (year 10 student) and Kyla (year 6 student) ~ Dr Sofocado is determined to press on with his fight for hospital reforms particularly for palliative care. // Romy Cayabyab