Whānau unable to visit dying mother during lockdown

By D'Angelo Martin

Judith Drake is currently alone and battling for her life in Manwatū Hospitals' surgical ward. Her family is praying for one simple request. 

"All I want to do is hold her hand and lift her spirits and I want to be there if she does leave us, very difficult times!" Husband Ian Drake says, while fighting back tears.

Judith was admitted into hospital on the 2nd of April and received her Diverticulitis operation the week after. Her husband lives only minutes away from the hospital and has been unable to get clearance to visit her under the current COVID health restrictions. 

"The operation took place on Monday and it was five hours long. The doctor rang me, the surgeon rang me that night at 6 saying that it was the worst, worst, worst, Diverticulitis case that they have ever seen."

A statement given by MidCentral District Health Board to Te Ao today states that "We implemented a no-visitor policy on March 25 in response to Alert Level 4 restrictions, exceptions of this policy can only allow a support person for mothers giving birth, terminally ill patients and children requiring essential care."

"I find it difficult when Jacinda has been saying, be kind and in fact, the hospital decision-makers who are keeping us from our partners are breaking my wairua and are being very unkind," Ian responds.

Carla the youngest member of the whānau who is in Kaitāia feels helpless and isn't able to travel due to lockdown.

"We're being told that you will be getting these $2000 fines, you can't get through and even when you get there you can't get to see your mum. You will just have to wait this out and that is heartbreaking.

Her partner Riqi Harawira is with Carla supporting her through this time of hardship. "It is such an important part of someone's mauri to have that support beyond the medical power of medicines. There's the mauri there's the wairua there's the arohā." 

The whānau have said that Judith has lost the will to fight and that she has given up.

"We love you to bits mum. We are proud of you and thank you. That's what we want to do, we want to have that with our mum and if it can't be me it's got to be my dad, obviously, it's got to be him first."  

She told her whānau that she will keep fighting.