13 November, 2021
The 68-year-old father of seven, who was an imam at an Auckland Masjid, died at his Glen Eden home on Wednesday.
Although coughing blood and too weak to move, the family said they waited to receive medical advice to take him to hospital, but that advice never came.
Following multiple calls to Healthline, the family said they were reassured he would receive the same advice from a hospital that Healthline was giving.
“The system was made for these [vulnerable] individuals, yet they told him ‘go home’ and self-isolate,” his pharmacist daughter said.
Instead, the family said they were sent throat lozenges and paracetamol to give to the ailing man.
Their hesitation to take him to hospital came after they were left unimpressed by treatment his mother-in-law received after she tested positive for the virus.
The mother-in-law, who doesn’t speak English, was initially treated in hospital but was then sent to Novotel MIQ too weak to wash herself and without a support person, the man’s daughter said.
The grandmother stopped eating, was unable to communicate her symptoms to staff and her condition quickly her deteriorated, the woman said.
After lobbying by the family, a support person was allowed in to help her, but by that stage, the grandmother was lying unresponsive on her bed.
She was taken to Auckland City Hospital where she continues to be treated. The family hasn’t yet told her about her son-in-law’s death.
The daughter said Covid had made people fearful, and she didn’t want her father’s vaccine hesitancy to be blamed for his death.
The health system failed him regardless of his vaccination status, she said.
The daughter said her father had suffered a lot of racism since the family moved to New Zealand, having fled Afghanistan as refugees over 20 years ago. However, following the Christchurch mosque attacks, New Zealand had become brighter and happier she said.
“All his patience and perseverance wasn’t for nothing, and it fruited in the end, something beautiful came from it,” she said through tears.
The family has complained to the Ministry of Health about his treatment and is in the process of making a complaint to North Shore Hospital.
They hope the father’s death won’t be in vain.
“What we’ve come to terms with is his death was unavoidable … but from that example we can avoid other avoidable deaths in the community, and that’s all he would have wanted,” she said.
While the family doesn’t want an apology, they hope for an acknowledgement of what they perceive to be a failure of the health system.
“They can’t be this neglectful to people in such desperate need, who are so helpless,” she said.
The man, who was farewelled at a funeral on Thursday, was remembered as a generous, selfless, and community-minded man.
“He was a beautiful man and I know he will be missed by a lot of people.”
“He gave everything he had to others,” his daughter said.
When asked about health checks for those isolating at home, Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElney told Friday’s 1pm Covid press conference she had spoken to those who provide the checks.
“They’ve assured me they do ring daily, they go through a number of questions, specifically asking for a number of symptoms,” she said.
The Ministry of Health wouldn’t confirm if the daily checks were always calls, something the family claims their father never received.
“Clearly there are some examples coming through of where we do need to tweak the system,” said Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson.
McElney said an investigation had been launched into the man’s case. His death will also be subject to a coroner’s investigation.
The Ministry of Health and Healthline were approached for comment on the daughter’s claims but did not respond.
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