Case 1

A 57-year-old woman living alone. Had reported to her GP with vague symptoms and nothing established as a cause. Specialist review revealed non-specific abdominal tenderness; and she was an ex-smoker. It was thought when her GP try to get her investigated, that a non-urgent chest x-ray and ultrasound was required, public wait time 3 months. To organise that privately would have cost $400 . The patient was a pensioner and didn’t have the money. A week later the patient presented in tears to the specialist clinic with abdominal pain getting worse, saying she knew something serious was causing her discomfort. She offered then to sell her ex-husband’s golf clubs and golf cart. The fund paid the $400 and the chest x-ray and ultrasound revealed metastatic lung cancer. The patient was then referred for urgent chemotherapy treatment was initiated seven days following the referral.

Case 2

A 48-year-old woman, living alone on a disability pension, in a small flat beneath a house, with no relatives and one neighbour as a friend . Vaginal bleeding was initially put down as part of the menopause with review time at the local hospital 4 months. She presented to the local hospital when there was more bleeding after observation she was discharged from hospital with instructions to see her general practitioner. Her GP asked as suggested by the hospital for a gynaecological review, ultrasound and biopsy. However, because of demand on the public system this could not be done for six weeks. The patient was distraught especially as she had started bleeding again and asked for review at the specialist clinic. The fund paid the $340 for the ultrasound which suggested complex cancer of the cervix/bowel. She was prioritised for gynaecological review/treatment where it was discovered that she had gynaecological Cancer which had metastasised

  Case 3

A 51-year-old lady presented  with a history of constipation and diarrhoea. She had presented to the hospital on two occasions with a distended abdomen. After an x-ray she was told that this was constipation, and given a laxative. She thought there was something more seriously wrong and communicated that to her GP. She was referred to the public hospital system and was told there would be a 4 to 6 week wait for review. Two weeks after her discharge from hospital she was in considerable pain remembering that the pain was similar to her mother’s bowel cancer. Her GP sent her for review at the Emergency Assessment Fund clinic. A mass  was felt in her side. An ultrasound was arranged and paid for by the Emergency Assessment Fund $340 which showed a kidney tumour. The patient was then reviewed urgently in the public hospital with a request for a biopsy. A request was also made for a colonoscopy given the family history. (Waiting time for colonoscopy in public hospital unless it has a priority ranking is three to six months)

  Case 4

A 36-year-old male presented who had difficulty with urination. This was significantly impacting on his quality of life and affecting his ability to work. He had a build-up of urine in his bladder and then quickly had to find somewhere to go and urinate. This was occurring five-six times during the day with his mates giving heaps about having a “girls” bladder. His GP had performed a test for prostate cancer called a PSA . This was normal and therefore he was given a diagnosis of irritable bladder. A referral to a urologist was then made which was going to take 4 to 6 months. His GP referred him to the Emergency Assessment Fund clinic. Examination revealed a slightly enlarged prostate, on enquiry the public waiting list for a cystoscopy/cystogram was three months . The fund paid $400m for an ultrasound. This revealed bladder neck constriction allowing the patient to be referred back to urology, with a priority and potential surgical cure.  Currently unknown outcome.

 Case 5

56-year-old post-polio woman, who presented in a wheelchair, and is on a disability pension. Examination had revealed a heart murmur, thought to be aortic stenosis. The GP felt the patient needed a cardiology review, but the first public hospital appointment available for her was 10 months’ time and she could not afford to see one privately. The fund paid for a private review ($400) with a cardiologist who confirms severe aortic stenosis and she has now been prioritised for treatment in the public system

I wanted to write this as a thank you to the Emergency Assessment Fund, because I now have a diagnosis. That probably seems strange when I have cancer throughout my body, and my diagnosis is terminal. But for 18 months I have known something was wrong with me but it was so difficult to get reviewed in the public system. Thanks to the Emergency Assessment Fund and its specialist review clinic, 18 months of uncertainty have been ended. I know now what I have to face, without a clinic and the fund like this to help me. It is wonderful to have a service like this to turn to in my hour of greatest need and be able to prepare my family.   (Dianne. Whakatane )

We had only been married some 8 months, when we learned that my husband had liver cancer, (which was secondary to hepatitis C, contracted as a result of an unscreened blood transfusion in 1982). My husband had a liver resection in Auckland. After the removal of a section of his liver, he returned home. Over the following 8 days, my husband’s health deteriorated significantly, he developed a very swollen abdomen, experiencing perpetual pain, high temperatures, and leakage from the wound, and he was urgently returned to Auckland hospital.  As I was very concerned about his deterioration and the symptoms he was now presenting, I had heard about the Emergency Assessment Fund and the Clinic in Whakatane. They were able to liaise with the Auckland doctors and help advance my husband’s care. We really appreciated the number of communications made  on our behalf at that time, and gained much  reassurance  from this. After my husband recovered, he had some further bleeding issues and thus visited the Clinic in Whakatane, and the problem was effectively dealt with.

As my mother had ovarian cancer, I have always been proactive in having regular yearly smears and pelvic scans. Recently my smear result came back normal but a number of ‘small cells’. When I discussed this with my GP, she said not to worry and just a repeat smear screening could be done in a years’ time. However I was really worried about what this meant and knowing about the Emergency Assessment Fund and its Clinic, I made contact. A second smear was suggested which the specialist was concerned enough to suggest that I have another smear which identified abnormal precancerous cells which I have had removed. I am so grateful.   (Judy: full name and address withheld)

My husband’s death was a tragedy of neglect and errors from our medical system, a system that we blindly trust and are helpless in most cases to effectively question. My husband knew something was wrong with his body 2 years before he finally succumbed to the devastation wreaked on his body by oesophageal cancer. A further horror story of missing and ill-advised referrals, results, and what proved to be fatal procedures followed, which culminated in a horrible and what I consider, preventable death. We didn’t know where to turn for more advice and help. Thankfully I was told about the Emergency Assessment Fund and its Clinic. While they couldn’t save my husband it made me wish that I had known about them earlier. They would have paid the $500 for an appointment with the oncologist which we couldn’t afford, and which may have prolonged his life. Having a special Emergency Assessment Fund would be a godsend for other patients like us who can’t afford treatment and where the hospital wait is too long.  (Helen: full name withheld)

My GP sent me for review of a urinary problem I had because the waiting time on the public system was seven months. The Emergency Assessment Fund reviewed my condition and suggested that it was a very rare presentation of a syndrome called Fitz Hugh Curtis. As a result I was admitted to hospital. The diagnosis was queried, but finally after several procedures accepted. When I was discharged without any antibiotics, the Emergency Assessment Fund again help me without charge. I cannot help but believe that having a clinic is extremely helpful for the community, and especially for people such as myself. I can only thoroughly endorse the concept and be grateful that was available in my hour of need. (Andrea: Whakatane –name withheld)

After 106 days of undergoing various forms of testing for my bleeding – CT/MRI Scans, Hysteroscopy (unsuccessful), Flexible Sigmoidoscopy, Gastroscopy, Colonoscopy (unsuccessful), an Oophorectomy (unsuccessful) and many biopsies – I still no had definitive diagnosis for my vaginal  bleeding . I was being sent from one department to another. My anxiety levels were going through the roof, and I asked my GP for a review at the Emergency Assessment Fund Clinic. They arranged an appointment with an oncologist free of charge as I had no money. Although my cancer can’t be operated on as it has spread throughout my body, I at least now know that I’m going to be treated and can get my affairs in order. I wish I had gone to the clinic sooner but I am grateful that it was able to help me when I most needed it. (Jane: Whakatane – name withheld)

The lump on the side of my head was getting bigger, but my doctor wasn’t too concerned. After 12 when it started to develop a scab, however I heard about the Emergency Assessment Fund clinic. They suspected it was a cancer and needed to be removed. They did a biopsy and confirmed that it which meant that it could then be treated urgently through the local Hospital. Although it left a big wound on my head I am very grateful that the surgeons were able to get all of the cancer. I am so grateful that it was picked up before it had spread, and I believe the Emergency Assessment Clinic is a real asset to the community. I can only imagine how many more patients they might help if they get community support and funding. I really hope they do because I’m sure there are lots of other people like me who could be helped. (Helen: full name withheld)

I injured my back in an aged care facility helping a patient. The physio told me to rest for two weeks as well as physio. However, I was barely able to walk to the door without pain. I got my husband to take me to the Emergency Assessment Clinic. They organised a special examination called an MRI. Then organised another specialist so that my back was injected. I could walk without pain. I was so grateful. When ACC said they would no longer support me, the Emergency Assessment Fund Clinic requested an independent review. That is now being done and I am so grateful. I can only think how much more they might be able to do for our community of people help them financially.

I went to the Emergency Assessment Fund having given up on life. I had been in chronic pain for 3 ½ years following surgery in Australia. Everyone thought it was in my mind. I had been injected and given painkillers to the point where I didn’t really want to go on and couldn’t do my job. It was my wife who insisted on taking me to The Emergency Assessment Fund Clinic. There they reviewed my case completely and gave me hope. The clinic found a specialist who believes a surgical procedure will return me to normal. I cannot express my gratitude and my family, they may shortly have a father and a husband back from the very pits of despair. I can only thank those at the Emergency Assessment Fund Clinic, without them life would not have been worth living.

I wanted to write this just to commend the Emergency Assessment Fund Clinic. Mine is a simple story, not one which prevented cancer, but was still really important to me and I think reflects the need for this clinic on many levels. Two years ago I was operated on and approximately six months later developed a small swelling on my abdomen. I had put up with the growing discomfort thinking it was partly old age. My GP had suggested a review in the clinic. They found an operating hernia, contacted the surgeon who was now agreed to fix this. It will be so nice to be free of pain and I can think about life again.

My husband and I were living in a caravan, as we had fallen on hard times. My tummy pain was put down to stress and constipation, my doctor tried to get a review in hospital but that wasn’t for 7 months because I wasn’t considered urgent. When the pain started to get worse my husband took me to the free Emergency Assessment Fund Clinic. The doctor there said he thought he could feel a lump on my kidney and it was sore when he squeezed it. They sent me for a scan of my whole tummy as well as paying $350 for it , as we couldn’t afford it. The scan found a large growth on my kidney which they thought was a cancer. My GP could then make an appointment at the hospital as my case was now considered urgent. Another special scan they did at the hospital said they thought the growth was benign but they are now keeping a close eye on me in case I need it taken out. I am so grateful that the Emergency Treatment Clinic was there for someone like me.

I wanted to write this letter to thank the Emergency Assessment Fund and the clinic which they run. I had mesh inserted as part of a hernia repair in my groin four years ago. I have been in pain ever since and the original doctors that I went back to denied that it was the mesh which was causing my pain. Last year when I was so fed up at getting told that it was in my mind and given all kinds of drugs that made me woozy, my GP referred me to the local hospital. It took them four months just to see me. Then they just injected me with local anaesthetic and told me that it would improve. That only lasted for a few hours and then I was in pain again. Some days I felt like not going on, everyone seemed to think it was in my mind and I was exaggerating. I looked it up on the Internet and found out that mesh can cause severe pain, and should be removed. I think my GP in desperation sent me to the Emergency Assessment Fund Clinic. They took on my case and presented all the evidence and located the right specialist, who is now going to take my mesh out and hopefully give me my life back. I cannot thank The Emergency Assessment Fund Clinic enough. Please make a donation, I’m sure there are lots of other cases like mine that they could help.

I wanted to write and thank the Emergency Assessment Fund. My husband was diagnosed with liver cancer after having contacted hepatitis C when he was a young child after he needed a blood transfusion. We were told that the hepatitis C had caused his liver cancer. When we spoke to doctors after his operation to remove a section of his liver with the cancer in it, they said the hepatitis C which was still present would probably cause another cancer. We had heard that it was possible to possibly cure my husband’s hepatitis C; but no one knew how we would go about it. After we visited the Emergency Assessment Fund Clinic we were given hope and put in touch with specialists in Auckland. We had to find money to get special treatment imported from Tasmania, but six months after this treatment my husband is cured of his Hepatitis C and we’re just so grateful that at least he has a chance of not getting his liver cancer back. Name withheld


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