Family left waiting in isolation as MOH fails to send discharge letter

Laura James
Source: 1News

An Auckland family spent almost two extra weeks in isolation, due to a delay in getting their discharge letters.

Theresa Hellesoe-Carroll and her household have been isolating since October 29 as close contacts of a Covid-19 case.

The household were told over the phone that they could return to normal life on November 12, but without clearance letters, they have been restricted.

"We cannot be released unless we get that letter," she said.

Six of those in her household needed the proof for their employers.

Her son, who doesn't want to be named, told 1News he was paid by his employer up until last week despite the extended time away, but this week he lost his income.

"They said that if I don't have that letter, they won't be able to pay me anymore because I have no proof of my isolation and why it has been extended for additional weeks," he said.

The family became Covid-19 close contacts when Hellesoe-Carroll's son, and then 11-month-old grandson, tested positive for Covid-19.

She helps care for her baby grandson, and he was staying with her at the time. 1News put questions to the Ministry of Health about the family's case on Wednesday.

Hellesoe-Carroll said by the end of the day the letters were in her inbox.

"I think when I told them you were coming to do the interview, that helped as well."

In a statement the Ministry of Health confirmed the letters have now been sent, and the family have had an apology.

"This was a result of data and human error," it said.

"The systems surrounding home isolation are rapidly evolving as resources and processes become available and demand increases."

It said that once a person has met the criteria for release from isolation, they'll be contacted to confirm that, usually over the phone.

"We acknowledge there have been some difficulties contacting some people isolating at home, and in some instances a delay.

"We understand this may create some issues for those affected and we appreciate their patience.

"We urge all cases isolating at home with questions or concerns about their health or release from isolation to call the dedicated 0800 Healthline number."

Hellesoe-Carroll said they found the whole check-in process a mess.

"Someone said, your isolation has just started, and we were on day 12," she recalled, "and, oh you're listed as being in MIQ and we had to tell them no we're isolating at home."

She said she also received a text message on Thursday morning reminding her to continue isolating, despite having been officially released.

But she's relieved to finally have her written clearance.

"Thank God it is finished, I'm so happy because I can just go out freely now and not worry about anything."

Her son told 1News he can't wait to be back at work on Monday.