Saturday, November 27

Returned asks for answers after MIQ’s ‘brutal’ treatment

A MIQ woman says it was “brutal” and “inhumane” by MIQ staff to take away the opportunity to comfort her father in the last moments of his life, without explanation.

Sasha Holden and her father Lyell Beard

Sasha Holden and her father Lyell Beard
Photo: Supplied

Despite being vaccinated and testing negative, Sasha Holden was denied a compassionate waiver to visit her father Lyell Beard in a Christchurch Hospital room across the street.

He said the government’s planned MIQ review does not offer more options to other people in the same situation.

Holden said he was “very, very close” to his father, leaving everything behind to return from Jersey in the Channel Islands when he learned that he had been diagnosed with widespread metastatic cancer on October 14.

Doctors gave Beard, whom she describes as “such a guy,” a life expectancy of no more than six months.

That made Holden eligible for an emergency assignment at MIQ to visit him, but he said it took officials a week to process his request.

He was unable to speak to MIQ on the phone and said he could not understand why it took him so long.

Sasha Holden's father, Lyell Beard

Sasha Holden’s father, Lyell Beard
Photo: Supplied

Meanwhile, Holden said he missed direct flights to Christchurch and his father’s health deteriorated dramatically.

“I think at that point I really started to feel more exasperated with the system … I was sending some kind of horrible emails begging them to understand my situation and the urgency of it and the genuine need to go home.

“The last phone call I had with Dad was when I was finally at Heathrow. He hadn’t been able to talk much up to that point, but I just said, ‘I’m going now, I’m going to catch my flight and I’m coming. I’m on my way’ and I told him that I loved him and the last thing he said to me was ‘I love you too’.

“I know he was really struggling to speak at the time, so it was a real privilege to hear him say those words.”

Holden arrived at the Chateau on the Park MIQ hotel on Monday and was placed in a room across from Christchurch Hospital, where her father was admitted.

He immediately sent a request for an exemption to visit his father on compassionate grounds.

Holden was not allowed to apply until he arrived in the country, but after previous robberies he feared how long it would take for officials to process.

“I emailed him and said, look, I’m here now, can you deal with this? It was a pleading email saying my dad was going downhill, he can’t talk anymore, he can’t eat, he can’t move. , and this all happened in a week. Doctors now say they think the GPS prognosis is optimistic and that it is only a couple of weeks old. “

“We were very careful to make sure they knew that he was twice vaccinated and that the place he came from had a very high vaccination rate.

“We talked about my willingness to do whatever it takes to see Dad, to wear whatever it takes in terms of PPE, to exert whatever restraints it takes just so I can be with him and say goodbye.”

The answer came Monday and Holden said it was an “absolutely crushing blow.”

“There was a very general, very generic, terrible pro forma letter, without compromising or giving any basis or explanation of the basis of their decision. It was just a very general, very standard rejection.”

Sasha Holden's father, Lyell Beard

Sasha Holden’s father, Lyell Beard
Photo: Supplied

The next day, around 4 in the morning, there was another hit. Her mother called her to tell her that her father had died.

Holden said it was an “extraordinary” experience to be sitting in the hotel room looking across the park to the room where her father was, unable to leave or comfort her mother.

“The 24 hours after learning he was dead was really shocking. And it almost gets harder as the impact wears off. Just the ‘what ifs’ that kind of plague on your head.

“How was he doing, and how much did he hold on to me? Was he in pain waiting for MIQ to make this decision? And what did he think on Tuesday when I didn’t get there … him downstairs?”

Holden said he wanted to be there during his father’s “darkest moments” and a “horrible bureaucratic monolith” took that option away from him.

He said the planned changes to the MIQ system in November do not offer more options to people in their situation.

“They also do not contemplate any change in the substance of the decision-making process for someone in my situation and future. They also do not recognize or change the process itself and the lack of humanity in the way it is administered. I think those two things really they have to be addressed. “

Holden has been organizing his father’s funeral from his MIQ room and has yet to hear from officials about his request.

“I understand that a balance has to be struck, but the balance was simply not struck in the right place. Someone in my position who was twice vaccinated and who has had two negative Covid tests cannot allow an hour or two to visit with me. father who is dying, then something about it is fundamentally wrong. “

MIQ chief response

The joint head of managed isolation and quarantine said they sympathize with the dire situation.

A statement attributed to Megan Main said that until new legislation is passed, applications for all exemptions are evaluated under current regulations.

“Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced that MIQ will be changing shortly. Until that legislation is passed, MIQ is required to continue to assess all waiver requests in the manner set out in current legislation.

“That means that exceptional circumstances exemption requests are scored using a public health risk assessment tool provided by the Ministry of Health. MIQ decision makers do not have the ability to override the tool and grant an exemption when someone gets a high score, as was the case with [Sasha’s] application.”

Main said the tool weighs time spent at MIQ, departure country risk level, airport transit locations, work and visiting intentions in New Zealand.

“[Sasha’s] The application was rejected because it scored high when evaluated based on these factors, specifically:

“[She] requested an early release on day 2 of 14. The day of stay is incredibly important in risk analysis, the risk to the community decreases as test results are received throughout the stay.

“[She] will be close to other family members. This increases the score because she is surrounded by people from the community.

“Although [Sasha] you live in a place with some of the lowest Covid rates in the world, traveled the UK, and flew on a plane with people from the UK going to Singapore. This means that it has crossed a high-risk area. “

The statement said that email is the “only workable model” to ensure consistency in responding to a large number of requests and that the team handles between 60 and 90 requests per day.

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