Whānau in distress after not being allowed to visit mokopuna on life support at Waikato Hospital

updated By Jessica Tyson

A whānau has been left in major distress after being stopped from seeing their mokopuna who is on life support at Waikato Hospital after suffering serious injuries from a car crash.

Maraea Jones, 20, is in the intensive care unit at the hospital after her and her sister Paris, 21, were flown from the crash site to the hospital on Thursday, April 23.

Maraea’s grandmother Gail Poihipi says the trauma has been even more distressing because Waikato Hospital staff refused to allow the whānau to visit her for a week.

After the incident occurred Poihipi spoke to staff at the hospital to ask if Maraea’s whangai parents could visit her.

“At the time they said yes they could. As I was with Paris, they could be with Maraea. So I phoned [the family members] to come through to the hospital to be at bedside or wherever that would be at the hospital. But they were stopped out front at ED, says Poihipi.

“The doctors had to go out and then explain to them the seriousness of her injuries, but then they went on to say that [the family members] weren’t to be in the room or inside the hospital for her.”

Gail says the whānau were concerned medical staff were making decisions about Maraea's care without consulting them.

“They called to say that she might be taken off life support in two days so they gave them a 30 minute visit. It was supposed to be a one hour visit but they and they didn’t want to rock any body’s boat because they were afraid that that 30 minutes visit would be taken off them.

Once the visit happened, the whānau was told they couldn’t visit again, says Poihipi.

Lady Tureiti Moxon gave support to the whānau  - Video / Tapatahi

Whānau reaches out for support

Out of despair, Poihipi reached out for support from the former deputy chair of the DHB's Māori Council Lady Tureiti Moxon for the whānau to be given access to their mokopuna.

Moxon took action and emailed the chief executive officer and the Commissioner of the Waikato DHB, as well as Minister Peeni Henare, to voice her concerns around the whānau and their plight.

The email was sent in the morning and by 5pm that day the whānau was allowed access, says Moxon.

“By the afternoon they had organised that the plan was put in place, the family was able to see their loved one."

Moxon says Maraea was able to respond to the whānau during the visit as well.  

“My aroha goes out to the frontline workers but I think sometimes we are so officious about things but what we don’t see is the importance of having whānau of having loved ones close to someone who’s fate they didn’t even understand.”

Moxon says staff at the hospital could have done better to manage the situation.

“Certainly given the circumstances of the whānau and that they were in a situation where they were totally powerless, she says.

“What [staff] should have been doing was support the whānau with a plan very early on in the piece rather than waiting almost a week later to allow whānau to feel like they’re part and parcel of her healing, because at that moment and point in time they hadn’t been part of any decisions that were being made in relation to their mokopuna."

She says hospital staff can sometimes forget that health isn’t just about the clinical side of a person’s being.

“When there is the wairua side, the tinana side, as well as the hinengaro, and that, I think, was totally overlooked and while people were saying things were being done, nothing was being done.”

Comment from Waikato DHB

The Waikato DHB said in a statement to Tapatahi, there was a daily visitor plan in place for some time for nominated family members.

A spokesperson said two family members could visit Maraea each day.

“Whānau have been consistently involved in the patient’s care plan and kept informed of any changes associated with that plan, a spokesperson said.

“In all circumstances, the hospital communicates directly with the designated next of kin with regard to care planning and any additional information sharing. It is then the role of that family member to include additional family members if they see fit.”

However, Poihipi disagreed and says whānau were not kept informed and it was hospital staff making the decisions without consulting the family.

The spokesperson didn't comment any further on Poihipi’s specific claims because of patient privacy.

Poihipi says Maraea is still on life support but responding more and more each day with the whānau stays by her side.