‘No empathy’: Bay mum’s dying wish denied
INSTEAD of being with his mum during her dying days, Mark Talbot is sitting alone in a Brisbane hotel room.
The US-based man flew home to Australia, desperate to fulfill his mother's wish of dying while surrounded by her sons.
He is now locked in frantic debate with the Queensland Health department, begging them to allow him to spend the government-enforced COVID-19 quarantine period near his mum in Hervey Bay.
Mr Talbot is currently confined to a government approved hotel room in Brisbane.
Mr Talbot told the Chronicle he wanted the Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeanette Young, to show compassion for his mother.
"This is not a story about me. It is a disaster to think that my mother has to endure this in her final days," Mr Talbot said.
He applied for an exemption to travel rules, which require all overseas travellers to spend two weeks in quarantine upon arrival in Australia, before leaving the US.
This request was knocked back in an email from a Queensland Health spokeswoman, seen by the Chronicle.
"While there are exemptions and we appreciate your personal circumstances, it has been determined by the Chief Health Officer that it is not possible to provide you with an exemption from quarantine at a government approved hotel in order to self-quarantine at your mother's residence in Hervey Bay at this time," the email read.
Mr Talbot has not given up the fight, saying it is critical that he get to Hervey Bay as soon as possible as his mother's health was deteriorating every day.
He said he understood the need for restrictions but boarded his flight confident he would be allowed to self-isolate closer to his family.
The Scarness home Mr Talbot's brother and mother live in operates as a bed and breakfast and would enable him to live separately to them during his visit, he said.
"The part that operates as a BnB has not been used for a while due to the restrictions and is completely separate from where they stay," he said.
Mr Talbot also said he would be able to drive to Hervey Bay from Brisbane, limiting his interaction with other people.
He said the health department had not taken his unique circumstances into consideration, providing a "generic" response, lacking in empathy.
A medical certificate signed by Mrs Talbot's doctor and seen by the Chronicle says the 83-year-old is suffering chronic respiratory failure.
"She has decided not to be hospitalised again and wants to live out her life at home," Mr Talbot said.
The signed doctor's note also suggests the property would be a suitable place for Mr Talbot to self-quarantine.
A Health spokesperson said decisions are not taken lightly.
"These are difficult decisions and we want to assure Queenslanders that every exemption application is considered with their safety in mind.
We understand being separated from loved ones, especially those who are unwell, is an extremely difficult circumstance to be in.
The compulsory quarantine period being used in Queensland, consistent with that of our state and international peers, is there to protect our community from the ongoing international COVID-19 pandemic.
We know the situation in the United States of America is dire with more than 1.72 million cases and more than 100,000 deaths, including a large number of deaths in California.
We also know the demographic of Hervey Bay is largely retirees who are more at risk of significant complications if they contract COVID-19," the spokesperson said.