A heavily pregnant woman missed a crucial check-up for her unborn child after being denied entry into Queensland from NSW due to the state’s tough coronavirus border restrictions.
Rosalie Stubbin is seven months pregnant and was supposed to travel to Cairns in far-north Queensland for an appointment with her GP booked for Wednesday, October 7.
Mrs Stubbin had been trying for two months to get an exemption for her appointment, but was given incorrect advice by the Queensland government.
By the time she had the correct information, it was less than two weeks away from her appointment – making it impossible to reach it in time due to the mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine.
“I haven’t been able to even have my tummy felt since 22 weeks,” Mrs Stubbin told news.com.au from a temporary home in NSW.
It comes just months after a NSW couple tragically lost their unborn child amid confusion over the border rules.
Mrs Stubbin’s doctor is in Cairns and she’s been having telehealth calls with them for the past two months.
“I haven’t seen my GP since August,” she said.
“I spoke to them on the phone, that’s the only thing I can do.”
Already a mother of three, Mrs Stubbin knows she needs more medical care than the average pregnant woman.
“I am very sick in pregnancy,” she said.
“I’m suffering from HG (hyperemesis gravidarum, which causes) constant nausea and vomiting. My legs are swollen. I have so many issues and so much pain in this pregnancy.”
The pregnancy is causing blood cots to form inside Mrs Stubbin’s veins that are potentially fatal.
“I need the next appointment for checking diabetes and DVT (deep vein thrombosis) fibroids,” she said.
She’s been nearly 10 weeks without antenatal care.
The Stubbin family were planning to move to Cairns two months ago to be with family and support networks there.
Her husband found a job in a farm just outside the city, and they also found a place to rent.
They enrolled two of their kids, aged seven and nine, into school in Queensland. Medical professionals were lined up and they planned to give birth at the Cairns Base Hospital.
But once the borders closed, they found themselves stuck on the wrong side.
On its website, Queensland Health states, “Patients can continue to enter Queensland from outside the border zone, or travel to health providers in Queensland outside the border zone.”
A spokesperson from Queensland Health told news.com.au, “We never deny essential, emergency health care to those who need it.”
But Mrs Stubbin doesn’t agree.
“The whole process is disgusting, there’s no one actually looking after it,” she said.
“(Queensland chief health officer) Jeanette Young keeps claiming on your news site and others ‘we will never deny a health appointment’. But she denies mine. And has left us stranded.”
Mrs Stubbin can get urgent care in NSW, but she wants her GP beside her.
“We can get emergency services in NSW if we need to, but it’s not my new home. I want to be setting up a nursery, enrolling my kids into school, in Queensland,” she said.
“Meanwhile my mum (based in Cairns) has broken her arm.”
But as it stands, she’s still unable to cross the border while her application is being considered.
INCORRECT BORDER ADVICE
In its original advice, Queensland Health incorrectly told Mrs Stubbin to live within the NSW-Queensland border zone for two weeks to allow her into the state and bypass hotel quarantine.
The department has since acknowledged that advice was wrong, and she should have instead applied for an exemption to begin with and gone through the hotel quarantine process.
She believed she was being told to lie on her forms to get the medical exemption.
“We could sit on the side of the road and lie about our address, make it look like we live in the border zone, but I don’t want to risk a fine or jail time,” she said.
Queensland Health apologised for the misunderstanding, which led her to miss the appointment.
“Queensland Health has contacted the applicant to apologise and provide the correct advice,” a spokesperson said.
NSW and Queensland have been engaged in a long-running war of words over the border.
On Friday, Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said NSW had effectively “given up” on the goal of zero community transmissions for 28 consecutive days.
Only if community transmission remains zero for 28 consecutive days will Queensland open up the border.
But by then it could potentially be too late for her baby, according to Mrs Stubbin, which is due on the last day of November.