Lulu Howe.
Lulu Howe. Contributed

Woman waits three days for airlift

THE family of a 96-year-old grandmother who claim she languished in Texas Hospital with a badly broken hip for three days without food is demanding answers from Queensland Health.

Beebo resident Lulu Howe was walking in her garden early last Tuesday morning when she slipped on wet grass and fell heavily, breaking her hip in three places.

Family members called an ambulance and Mrs Howe was taken to Texas Hospital where she was x-rayed and placed on a drip, with her family told by hospital staff the beloved grandmother would need to be flown to Brisbane or Ipswich for urgent surgery.

But they claim the elderly woman, who was marked down as "nil by mouth" with surgery supposedly imminent, was forced to wait in her hospital bed until Friday morning before she was finally flown out of Stanthorpe, with no rescue choppers available in the meantime.

A close family member, who declined to be identified, told the Daily News that to make matters worse, Mrs Howe - described as a "tough old cookie" - developed pneumonia due to lying in bed covered only with a thin sheet in the air-conditioning.

"We are upset and we are angry about the delay in flying her out, given her age and the urgency of the situation," the family member said.

"She's a very tough 96-year-old, but at that age you can deteriorate quite quickly when something like this happens.

"We were told she would need to be operated on within two days at the very least and that she would definitely be flown out on the Wednesday."

The family member said Mrs Howe was eventually taken by ambulance on Friday to the Stanthorpe Aerodrome, where a State Government aircraft flew her to Ipswich.

They said the family had contacted RACQ CareFlight, who advised them they had never been alerted by Queensland Health to the need for a patient flight to Texas.

Mrs Howe is now recovering well in Ipswich Hospital after surgery on Friday.

A Queensland Health spokeswoman yesterday declined to comment in detail about Mrs Howe's treatment for privacy reasons, but confirmed she was flown from Stanthorpe by a Retrieval Services Queensland aircraft.

"Judgments about the timing of retrievals are overseen by experienced clinicians," the spokeswoman said.

"The patient was made comfortable at Texas Hospital and received appropriate treatment in consultation with the orthopaedic registrar at Ipswich Hospital.

"Patients being treated for broken bones can often refuse food due to nausea resulting from either pain medication or pain from their injuries."

The spokeswoman said Texas Hospital staff would "willingly adjust air-conditioning levels or provide warmer linen to any patient on request".

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