Medical centre baffled by Christmas Day experience

Unable to get hold of Wanaka Medical Centre for attention on Christmas Day, Emily Alloo was...
Unable to get hold of Wanaka Medical Centre for attention on Christmas Day, Emily Alloo was forced to go to Queenstown to be diagnosed with appendicitis. However, a centre spokeswoman says it is ‘‘at a loss’’ as to how she did not reach anyone, and several patients were treated that day. Photo: Sean Nugent
A communication mix-up with Wanaka Medical is to blame for a long Christmas ordeal for one suffering patient.

Emily Alloo, a 21-year-old student at Otago Polytechnic, was spending the summer in Wanaka with her family when she began feeling unwell shortly before Christmas.

When she awoke on Christmas morning, her condition had not improved, and her parents took her to Wanaka Medical Centre about 10.30am.

She claimed there were no doctors in sight and when they tried ringing the on-call number, they got no answer.

"We tried to contact the number they provided and nobody was answering.

"We were ringing for about five minutes before we decided to go to Frankton to Lakes Hospital."

There Ms Alloo was diagnosed with appendicitis, and she was quickly transported by ambulance to Southland Hospital for surgery.

The next day, she was told by doctors that if she had not had surgery that night, her appendix could have ruptured, which could have caused serious infection.

Ms Alloo said the 11-hour experience was "quite scary" and she was disappointed in the service in Wanaka.

However, Wanaka Medical practice manager Jan Gillespie said she was "at a loss" as to how Ms Alloo’s experience could have happened.

"We had a doctor here all morning seeing emergencies. The number on the door would’ve gone through to the telephone triage service and they would’ve put it through to him.

"There were several people seen in the morning and that’s how they got through.

"I’m sorry that happened to her but I’m at a loss to how that would have happened. The system was working and we had patients here."

She said the practice "always had plenty of staff" at Christmas and stressed that anyone in an emergency should call 111.

"If they do that, it’ll be sorted out straight away."

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