Dr Huhana Hickey believes the District Health Boards are not being forthright when a Waikato DHB spokesman said in a media statement yesterday that they "strongly refute any suggestion that PPE is being restricted and staff prevented from accessing masks and other protective equipment".
Dr Hickey says that a large number of carers in the disabled and aged care sector have been infected with Covid-19 which has meant that district nurses cannot conduct their routine home visits or if they do, they are unprotected.
Even now, two and a half weeks later, disability and aged care providers still do not have any PPE gear for their carers and they are having to source their own from China, or make them.
“Carers are still not supplied with proper PPE gear. This has led to infections that I’m still recovering from post-surgery” says Dr Hickey.
“We also had a mum with a severely disabled daughter in hospital and when she questioned the nurse doing her daughter’s bloods coughing all over her girl without a mask or gloves, they tried to throw mum out until I got hold of the minister to get it stopped”
Dr Hickey supports the complaint laid with the Waikato DHB by the NZ Nurses Union claiming two nurses, who now have COVID-19, were stopped from wearing PPE by hospital management when treating an infected patient.
“I think its deplorable the way that management staff are treating all their staff by not ensuring every essential frontline worker has proper PPE gear. The flow on effects of that impact greatly on our disabled community who are least likely to be ventilated because they do not have equal value to non-disabled patients.” says Dr Hickey.
“It’s a double whammy for us who are Maori and disabled. Maori are at greater risk of negative Covid-19 health impacts, Maori are already disproportionately represented amongst current inequities in access to high quality healthcare, and then Maori disabled are least likely to receive proper home help.”
Dr Hickey is the first Māori disabled woman to gain a PhD in law from Waikato University. Dr Hickey currently sits on the New Zealand Human Rights Review Tribunal and in 2018. She is also a claimant in the Wai 2575 Health and Services Inquiry currently before the Waitangi Tribunal.