COVID restrictions stop family visit to hospital
A North Queensland family have spoken of their heartache at being turned away from a Brisbane hospital after travelling more than 1000km to see a loved one injured in a horror crash.
COVID-19 restrictions have left John Hitchens Jnr lying in the spinal ward alone, as his wife, two young sons and other family members were prevented from visiting.
Mr Hitchens, who goes by JJ, woke from major neck surgery, paralysed and without his wife Jess by his side.
He was flown to hospital after he was thrown from a dirt bike during a camping trip at Kenilworth on August 28.
JJ grew up in Home Hill, went to school there, played for the Burdekin Roosters when he was younger and raced motorbikes at the local club. He had only moved to Logan five years ago with Jess and their two children to care for Jess's parents.
On Monday, Jess was allowed to visit for the first time since JJ was taken in for surgery to repair broken neck bones a day after his accident.
JJ's sister Hannah Cullen and father John Hitchens Snr, made the 1240km trip from Home Hill to the hospital to be with him, but were turned away at the door due to COVID restrictions.
"We got there on the Saturday - he had the accident on the Friday afternoon," John said. "We left Friday afternoon, got to Rocky at two in the morning, then got there Saturday afternoon and then we just weren't allowed to go in so we just waited and waited, and waited, in the hope that we were going to be allowed to go and see him."
John and Hannah stayed for two weeks but had to return home for work, with no indication of when they might be able to see JJ.
"Not being able to see him is a horrible, horrible price to pay but I'd rather not see him and not give him COVID, than see him and make him sicker," John said. "Just being able to get Jess in there has just been the main thing, that was my main motivation for making phone calls and talking to the media in the first place."
However, John said Jess was yet to hear if she would be given approval to continue visiting JJ next week.
This week was the first chance since the accident that Hannah has had to see her older brother's face, through a video call.
"That was exciting but it was really hard to control my emotions so that he couldn't see us break down, we wanted to try and be really happy to talk to him," she said.
John said his son's prognosis was uncertain.
"They can't give us a definite answer on what or if he is going to have any movement a part from what he has now," he said. "So he can move his head, shrug his shoulders, he can move his bicep enough to lift his hand off the bed and that is basically it."
Originally published as COVID restrictions stop family visit to hospital