During the last week, an Inverell family has been caught up in a complex web of COVID-19 administration and restrictions, and all during a time of personal crisis.
On Wednesday, October 14 Gary Wilson left rural Victoria to see his father who was residing in the McLean Care facility in Inverell.
Mr Wilson lives in Lara,18 km north-east of the Geelong CBD, and the day before he had been discharged from a hospital in Melbourne following a knee replacement operation.
"My father William (Bill) Wilson was a resident in palliative care with his body parts shutting down and literally dying from the bottom up," Mr Wilson said.
"As of 5:00 am the day I flew out of Melbourne my dad's circulation was critical, and he was given a constant supply of painkillers."
Mr Wilson was allowed to enter New South Wales on compassionate grounds and was put into police quarantine at the Novotel Hotel in Sydney.
"Before I left Victoria I submitted an application to NSW Health because I wanted to get to Inverell and do my isolation period at the Sapphire City Motel so I could visit my father," he said.
On his arrival in Sydney, NSW Health advised Mr Wilson's request to be allowed to visit his father while in quarantine in Inverell had been rejected by McLean Care because he was from Victoria and had also travelled through Sydney which is a hot spot.
Therefore his application to be exempt from Sydney quarantine was denied as there was no reason for him to do so in Inverell.
At 11 pm on the day he started quarantine in Sydney Mr Wilson found out his father had passed away.
"Then I asked to be allowed to travel directly to Inverell to complete my isolation," he said.
"I said I would attend Inverell police station upon arrival and have them escort me to my motel room, and to the funeral at a distance from other people, at a cost to me so I could be as close as possible to my father and other family members."
Mr Wilson's daughter Racheal had to remain behind in Victoria but lobbied on her father's behalf remotely.
Miss Wilson contacted the office of Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall and was told that her father would need to submit another application to quarantine in Inverell to attend the funeral.
"The problem was that the initial application was to go see my pop for end of life, then the nursing home declined, and then my pop died," she said.
"We weren't aware that we needed to submit a new application for my dad to quarantine in a hotel in Inverell, as we assumed we could amend the standing application."
Bill Wilson was placed in care at McLean Care in Inverell last July so that his wife Bertha could stay with their daughter Donna Broadbent, who has lived in the town for 8 years with her husband Col.
Bertha and Bill raised their five children in and around Glen Innes, and had lived in Brisbane since 2010.
Mrs Broadbent said the family was very happy with the care their father received at McLean Care - particularly from the local customer care manager.
While the general manager for residential services at McLean Care, Sarah Wade, would not comment on individual cases when The Inverell Times contacted her, she did acknowledge it was a difficult time.
"Our dedicated team at McLean Care are going above and beyond every day to provide support and services to every individual in our care affected by the complications of the pandemic," Ms Wade said.
"Our heartfelt condolences are with the Wilson family during this difficult time."
The funeral has now been delayed until the end of the month so Mr Wilson can attend the service at the Inverell crematorium when he is released from quarantine. One of his brothers lives in Tasmania and another brother and sister live in Sydney - all three will be able to attend the service without restriction.
However, this is of little consolation to his sister Donna in Inverell.
"Dad has to stay in a fridge for two weeks, and that's just unforgivable really," she said.
"Gary only got out of hospital the day before he left Melbourne, and before he went into hospital he had to have a COVID test which was all good, and since then I think he has had a couple more. So testing obviously means nothing.
"The crematorium can hold 42 people, but if Gary had attended the funeral while he was in quarantine the service would have been restricted to 20 people and Gary would have had to be isolated, nobody could go near him, and then as soon as the service was over they would ship him out of town.
"Even when Gary comes out of quarantine it's not that day - it's actually that night that he is allowed out. Because although he was quarantined during the day, the 14 days start from the time he was processed, so he won't be allowed to leave until 8 pm that final night.
Where is the common sense?
"As we are having a viewing for dad the next day our other brother Willie is picking Gary up, and then they are driving up from Sydney to Inverell that evening - so that puts their lives at risk.
"You can understand it, but you can't understand it - if you know what I mean."
Miss Wilson was also at a loss to make sense of it all.
"Why put him in a hotel prison because he travelled to NSW to be with his dying father?" she asked.
"He is a healthy man, having already tested negative.
"Under compassionate grounds why didn't they have a testing process to skip quarantine for these circumstances?
"My dad won't get a hug for two weeks and he learned of his dad's passing alone in a hotel room that he has no key for.
"This is emotional trauma at the hands of our government who have created blanket rules for travel with no proper process to support those going through loss.
"My father was left feeling helpless, vulnerable, in pain, confused, shocked, and then by the end of the night heartbroken and absolutely exhausted.
"Noone should have to plead to their government, or a nursing home, to visit their dying family member.
"Why couldn't my dad still travel to be close by for the funeral?
"It's obvious he would want to be there."
Everyone has a story to tell and I like to help them do it.
Everyone has a story to tell and I like to help them do it.
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