3 Jul 2018

Wife of House of Shem founder waiting for apology from DHB

7:57 pm on 3 July 2018

The wife of a man with terminal cancer who was kicked out of a Waikato Hospital ward says she's yet to receive a formal apology - three months after the incident.

House of Shem

Carl Perkins died in May this year. Photo: Supplied

In April, Denise Perkins, the wife of reggae band House of Shem founder Carl Perkins said she was kicked out of her husband's shared ward by two duty charge nurses.

Waikato DHB interim chief executive Derek Wright said at the time it was not the hospital's policy to allow guests to stay in shared wards.

Mr Perkins died a month later from bowel cancer, and Ms Perkins said the treatment by the nurses in charge of the ward was traumatic for her and her husband.

He had been moved from a single ward to a shared ward at Waikato Hospital because another patient needed the single ward.

Ms Perkins, who was her husband's primary carer, said she had been told she would not be allowed to stay with him in the shared ward.

However, she said the situation escalated when the two duty nurses barged into her husband's cubicle while she was cleaning him.

"While I was in the middle of doing that the curtains flew open - two women flanked the area where my husband was and said 'Mrs Perkins you've got three minutes to vacate this area or the security will escort you off the hospital grounds and have you trespassed'."

Ms Perkins said she left her husband's ward and was told by him to call former Māori Party leader Hone Harawira about the incident.

She claimed she was then marched down to the hospital lounge in front of a number of hospital staff.

"I felt absolutely humiliated, I felt sad for my husband that he was alone, he was pending surgery the next day and he was fearful, absolutely fearful, he was terrified."

Ms Perkins, who has worked as a nurse, said a bell was set up to allow her husband to call her when he needed her.

However, she said she was only allowed a short time with her husband each hour.

"The next time Carl rang I needed to clean him, and the nurse said to me 'you've only got a minute'. I said 'it will take a lot longer than a minute to clean my husband'."

"You know what? Have a lot more compassion please. You're a nurse, I'm a nurse, just show some compassion."

She said she managed to make contact with a worker from Te Puna Oranga, the Waikato DHB's Māori Health Service - but their attempts to explain tikanga Māori and explain Ms Perkins' situation also went unnoticed.

"She [the worker] was absolutely mortified as well, she said to me 'I tried Denise they wouldn't listen to me - they practically laughed at me when I talked to them about the Māori health plan'."

It was not until 6.30am the next morning that Ms Perkins was told Carl had been moved to a single ward and that she could now join him.

She said this only happened after Mr Harawira called hospital staff questioning why she had been treated this way.

Mr Harawira later shared Ms Perkin's experience in a Facebook post which went viral - and said someone needed to be held accountable for the incident.

Even though Mr Wright did offer a public apology to the whānau, Ms Perkins said they received no face-to-face apology.

"Even Carl said 'Who did he apologise to? Did he apologise to you? Did he apologise to me?' There was no apology that came through."

A Waikato DHB spokesperson said it offered its condolences to Ms Perkins' whānau around Carl's death - but would not comment on her complaint which they said had been passed on to the Health and Disability commissioner.

The spokesperson said the DHB was keeping Ms Perkins' up-to-date around developments in the investigation.

In a statement, the Health and Disability commissioner said to protect the privacy of all of the parties involved, the commissioner would not comment about complaints it is considering or may receive.

The Perkins whānau is now turning their attention to a tribute concert for Mr Perkins being held this Friday night in Auckland which includes musicians Herbs, Southside of Bombay and Ria Hall.

It will be the first time the boys have performed onstage without their dad, Ms Perkins said.

"Carl's always been with them - even if he had a cold he'd still stand up on stage and he'd sing his heart out."

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