Pregnant woman shares humiliation of being given vital injections in public carpark while in hotel quarantine

Cherie with her daughter while in quarantine.
Cherie with her daughter while in quarantine.  Photo: Supplied

A pregnant North Queensland woman has told of her distress at being taken to a carpark to be given necessary injections in her buttocks while quarantining at a Gold Coast hotel.  

Tears well up in Cherie's eyes as she recalls having to stand in the carpark of a doctor's surgery and lift her skirt while a nurse gave her the injection.

"I was in shock the first time and just let them do it, but when I got back to my room I just started crying," Cherie, who does not want her surname used for privacy reasons, said.

"I felt my dignity had been taken away and I was not treated humanely."

The 49-year-old had just returned from Greece, where she had undergone an embryo transfer, and under doctor's orders was required to have intra-muscular progesterone injections in her buttocks every three days.

There was a nurse stationed at hotel she was quarantining at, however every three days the mother-of-five was escorted by police through the hotel basement into a private car and driven to a doctor's surgery carpark to be given the injection.

Last minute dash

Cherie was due to travel to Greece to have an embryo transplanted just two days before COVID-19 restrictions were implement in March last year.

She knew time was running out for her to have the procedure with Greek laws only allowing women to have embryos transferred up to 50 years of age. Cherie applied to the Queensland Government for special consideration to travel with her 15-month-old daughter in September on compassionate grounds.

They spent two weeks in Greece and just before getting on the plane to return home Cherie was thrilled to learn she was pregnant.

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"I cried.  It was such a relief after everything we have gone through. But with it came anxiety knowing we had to spend two weeks in a hotel," she said.

"At 49 years old I was a high-risk pregnancy.  The risk of miscarriage is really high.  IVF in itself is high risk.  The placenta can just shut down and I can have a stillborn baby.

"We had gone to all this trouble to have this baby and I needed the injection to make sure I didn't lose the baby."

Cherie said the nurse at the doctor's clinic she was taken to for the injections apologised but said she couldn't allow her into the clinic.

'Humiliating' experience

"In the carpark I can see houses, and old men and people shopping," Cherie said. "I felt humiliated."

Cherie said the nurse at the hotel told her she could not administer any health care.

"I was scared I was going to lose the baby because I was so upset."

"I felt more and more sick every time I went.  I wasn't treated like a human being. 

"I had gained permission from the Queensland Government to travel overseas and was told all my health needs in quarantine would be taken care of, but they were doing the bare minimum."

Responding to questions about Cherie's treatment, a Gold Coast Health spokesperson said the department was committed to the health and safety of all Queenslanders, including people undertaking hotel quarantine, workers who staff the quarantine hotels, and others in the community.

"COVID-19 is highly infections, and great care must be taken to ensure contact with people who are quarantining is minimised.  This is done to keep our community safe," the spokesperson said.

"We acknowledge the experience of Hotel Quarantine can be stressful for guests, and the requirement for medical treatment can add a further layer of complexity and challenge for guests.  We do our best to manage the dual responsibility to car for Hotel Quarantine guests and ensure the safety of our community."

According to Gold Coast Health, many GP and specialist practices are physically unable to accommodate patients under Quarantine Orders due to the risk of COVID-19 transmission to staff and other patients.

While Gold Coast Health facilitates the transportation of quarantine hotel guests to private care, doctors and other care providers may require the guests to comply with various conditions, such as not entering the practice and administering treatment in the quarantine car.