A young mother from northern New South Wales has been refused entry into a Queensland hospital where her newborn baby is receiving urgent medical treatment.
Chantelle Northfield and her husband, Glen, were unable to fit into the helicopter that flew their son, Harvey, from Lismore to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital on Friday.
The baby was born with extremely low oxygen levels, which required urgent intervention.
“Glen and I were refused entry to the hospital until after 14 days’ mandatory quarantine in a hotel,” Ms Northfield said.
“We would have been more than willing to do that if there was a guarantee that Harvey would be there for that long, but no-one is 100 per cent sure and the second he no longer needs such extensive treatment he will be flown back to Lismore.”
Doctor slams decision
Ms Northfield’s sister-in-law, Maddie Mortensen, said it had been extremely stressful for the family from Casino.
“It’s Chantelle’s birthday today and she obviously wanted her baby home today to celebrate, and she’s going through all this stress,” she said.
Ms Mortensen has set up an online petition demanding answers from Queensland Health.
The same day Harvey was born, there was supposed to be an easing of restrictions that would allow northern NSW residents to travel across the border for essential medical appointments.
Ms Mortensen said Harvey’s parents thought they had an exemption to travel across the border, but did not realise that did not mean they would have access to their son.
“The hospital contacted them and said ‘No, you can’t come in unless you quarantine in a hotel for 14 days’,” she said.
“Being hours away from your own baby and not being able to see it by touch or hear it, only by Facetime at night, it is horrible.”
Lismore paediatrician Chris Ingall said it was a desperate situation, particularly in the vital early days usually shared by a mother and her new baby.
“It borders on medical negligence actually because sick babies need their mother’s immunity,” he said.
“To have this separation at this point for any baby, there is no medical upside. It is just bad.
“It’s very saddening for the family and bad medicine for the baby.”
Dr Ingall said it was particularly frustrating given that far northern New South Wales was an extremely low COVID-19 risk area.
“In the Northern Rivers, we aren’t Queenslanders, but we are Australians,” he said.
“We should have the same rights as people north of the border in terms of our health care.
“Maybe we need to look to the Federal Government to bring something to bear, because it’s totally unnecessary medically, it’s bizarre what is going on, except that there is an election brewing.”
The ABC has requested a response from Queensland Health.