A young woman involved in a head-on car crash was forced to walk across a state border unaided just hours after she was discharged from hospital and later suffered life-threatening complications.
Phoebe Kirk, 20, was involved in a head-on crash at Crabbes Creek, not far from her home in Burringbar, far northern NSW, on October 14.
After being rescued from her car by two passers-by, she was transported across the border in an ambulance to the Gold Coast University Hospital rather than the closer Tweed Hospital because it was feared her injuries were critical.
Attending emergency workers reportedly feared she may have had spinal damage and internal bleeding.
But after being discharged 24 hours later, Ms Kirk, 20, was put in a taxi and dropped off at a 7-Eleven on the Queensland side of the border and made to walk 100m back into NSW.
Within hours she became so ill she was rushed back to a NSW hospital and later stopped breathing during further surgery.
Phoebe Kirk, 20, was forced back into hospital in NSW after she was ‘expelled’ from Queensland when her abdominal injuries became infected, where she then underwent surgery
An image from Ms Kirk’s Instagram shows the bruising she received in the accident
But her mother, Joanne Martin-Kirk claimed Covid exposure precautions meant Ms Kirk was isolated in a room and had minimal contact with nurses.
‘She had been in the hospital for less than 24 hours… her words were she was being expelled back to NSW,’ Ms Martin-Kirk told 2GB breakfast host Ben Fordham on Thursday.
‘She was told she would have patient transport so I presumed that was patient transport back to Tweed Hospital.
‘They put her in a taxi, not even wheelchaired out of the hospital. She had to walk out of the hospital, get in the taxi herself, open and close the door with her broken wrist and ribs… and carry her bag.
Ms Kirk’s car after the smash at Crabbe’s Creek in far northern NSW – she was transported to Gold Coast University Hospital rather than Tweed Hospital due to the suspected seriousness of her injuries
‘[She was] dropped off at a 7-Eleven at the border. She said [to the driver], “you’re dropping me across the border?” He said there’s no way I can cross the border because I won’t be allowed back in.’
Ms Martin-Kirk said her daughter had been treated ‘like a leper’ in the Gold Coast hospital due to the fact she had come from a Covid hotspot in NSW, claiming nurses walked past her room and visitors were not permitted.
After returning to NSW, Ms Kirk was rushed back to Tweed Hospital with septicaemia due to the abdominal injuries sustained in the crash.
‘Excruciating pain and fevers, heart rates of 147 and low blood pressure,’ Ms Kirk wrote in an October 30 Instagram post.
After being forced to walk back into NSW, Ms Kirk was rushed back to Tweed Hospital with septicaemia due to the abdominal injuries sustained in the crash
NSW woman Phoebe Kirk took to Instagram to document her version of a horror health ordeal following a car accident
‘After four days in hospital, multiple monitors, drips, scans, stabs after stabs with medicine, needles and many doctors and nurses later, I was put straight into surgery.
Ms Kirk’s lungs then collapsed during surgery and she stopped breathing for three minutes until she was stabilised and began recovering in ICU.
Deputy NSW Premier Paul Toole blasted Queensland authorities over Ms Kirk’s treatment.
‘Lines on a map shouldn’t be a reason for people not getting home safely from hospital,’ he told the Daily Telegraph.
NSW MP for Tweed Geoff Provest said Ms Kirk’s experience showed ‘a lack of compassion’ by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and her government.
‘This is not our first case of this. We’ve had a number of people calling to us who haven’t been able to seek medical treatment,’ he said.
Gold Coast Health said it was unable to directly comment on individual cases due to patient confidentiality, but the statement it provided to Daily Mail Australia appeared to suggest the timing of Ms Kirk’s release from hospital appropriate.
Gold Coast Health said it was unable to comment on individual cases due to patient confidentiality, but the statement it provided to Daily Mail Australia appeared to cast doubt on the severity of Ms Kirk’s injuries
Ms Kirk went back into surgery in NSW after being taken to a Gold Coast hospital following a car crash and then discharged
The statement said decisions to discharge people from hospital were based on ‘clinical assessments’ following assessment by staff including a ‘specialist trauma team’.
‘While a car accident is considered a traumatic event, injuries vary widely and can range from minor to very serious,’ the statement said.
‘Patients with serious trauma injuries have much longer hospital stays than 24 hours.’
It also defended Covid protocols used during patient stays.
‘We understand admission to hospital can be distressing, however, to minimise the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and to protect our staff and patients, we adhere to state-wide protocols when treating patients who have been in COVID-19 hot spots.’
On October 13, NSW Health reported 12 Covid-19 cases from the Northern NSW local area health district. There were three on October 14 and two on October 15.
The statement also appeared to suggest Ms Kirk had a role in arranging her journey back to NSW.
‘Discharge plans, including modes of transport, are made in consultation with patients,’ the statement said.
‘In cross-border situations, arrangements are sometimes made that involve the patient being taken to an agreed point to be met by family members.’