‘Pretty bloody bad’: Elderly mother denied dying wish
ONE last chance to visit his ailing mother who lies terminally ill inside Rockhampton Hospital is all Leonard John Clouten wishes for.
Sadly, the Tuggerawong man's window to see 99-year-old Doris Clouten drastically declines as each hour passes - her battle with metastatic ovarian cancer nearing its final days.
Mrs Clouten, who is in palliative care, has been prevented from reuniting with her son due to strict Queensland Health policy.
The Tuggerawong area in New South Wales was only weeks ago declared a COVID-19 hotspot, making Mr Clouten's entry to Queensland significantly difficult.
Despite applying for the appropriate paperwork days in advance of his departure, he claims no response - either an approval or rejection - was received.
Mr Clouten started the eight-hour drive in his campervan, hopeful an outcome would be known by the time he arrived at Queensland's border.
However, what followed was anything but a smooth border crossing, he claims.
"I thought if I drove up to the border and the request approval came through then at least I'm that much closer," Mr Clouten said.
"When I got up there, they said there's no way I was getting through because I come from a hotspot.
"I understand there's a lot of idiots breaking the rules but I'm not out to do any of that. I've got the mask, the gloves, the hand sanitiser in the car ready to go."
Unfortunately, an official request for exemption from health officials at Rockhampton Hospital also did little to help the matter.
Under the exemption, Mr Clouten would still be subject to rapid COVID-19 testing and an isolation period - monitored by hospital staff - upon arrival at Rockhampton.
Devastated, he instead retreated to a motel near Glen Innes in hopes the paperwork would by chance be approved in the days following.
While understanding of the need for such strict protocols, he further explained his campervan was fully equipped to ensure minimal interaction with the general public.
"Once I got across the border I wasn't going to stop, I was going to see her and then come back," he said.
"I've got a fridge with all my tucker in it, I've got the stove to boil my water, two thermoses in the front so I don't have to stop much, and 60 litres of fuel so I didn't have to go into a service station."
The heartbreaking situation today brings into question the State Government's handling of situations involving serious health issues of interstate family members.
"I know they've got a lot to do, but I think with something like this there should be some way you can bypass the restrictions and go in," Mr Clouten said.
"It's pretty bloody bad when your mum wants to see you and I want to see mum when she's dying and you can't do it.
Mr Clouten has since returned to his hometown, any remaining hope of seeing his mother for the final time dashed.
Despite the heartbreaking situation, he appreciates the efforts Queensland Police have undertaken to ensure the security of the state's borders.
"That's their job, I've got nothing against them. They've done what they're supposed to do but all I want to do is get up and see my mother. She could go any time and I think it may be too late now," he said.
A Queensland Health spokesman said they faced many "difficult decisions", adding each exemption application is considered with Queensland residents' safety in mind.
"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.
"Quarantine outside of government-arranged accommodation is only available in very limited circumstances.
"The Chief Health Officer must be satisfied that the same strict quarantine requirements that are required in government-arranged accommodation can be met in these situations."
A defeated Mr Clouten hopes his experience might inspire the State Government to consider a review of its hard stance on interstate family tragedies.
"I don't want this to happen to anyone else. I'm not the only one in this position, other people need to be able to get around for things like this."
As of Saturday morning, Mr Clouten has yet to receive a response from Queensland Health.
READ MORE: Border closure a 'huge over-reaction'
READ MORE: Queenslanders hit the road in big numbers