A man suspected of taking his own life on day nine of hotel quarantine had received only one welfare call during his detention, it’s been revealed.
A man suspected of taking his own life on day nine of hotel quarantine had received only one welfare call during his detention, it’s been revealed.

Welfare ‘bottlenecks’ at time of hotel quarantine death

Welfare checkers were working through a backlog of 800 calls at the time a man ­in hotel quarantine apparently took his own life.

The welfare team, which included call centre travel agents from Helloworld and Department of Health and Human Services staff, were trying to call every quarantined guest at least twice during their 14-day stay, starting on day three.

But due to the workload, and "bottlenecks" when welfare checkers rang the hotel switchboards, many calls were not made on time - or at all.

The inquiry into the hotel quarantine program heard the man had received one welfare call on day five of his detention. He died on day nine.

He had received daily calls asking if he had any COVID-19 symptoms.

He spoke to a COVID-19 symptom checker at 4pm on April 10.

When he failed to answer at least five calls on April 11, an authorised officer, nurse and security guard forced open the door to his room at the Pan Pacific hotel to find he had apparently taken his own life.

The matter is being investigated by the coroner.

The head of government body Safer Care Victoria, Professor Euan Wallace, told the hotel inquiry his organisation had conducted a review of the death and another serious incident in which delays meant a 74-year-old man was not taken to hospital for some time, until he became extremely unwell and was rushed to ICU.

Safer Care Victoria’s Professor Euan Wallace. Picture: Supplied
Safer Care Victoria’s Professor Euan Wallace. Picture: Supplied

The review found, among other issues, the welfare check team was unable to undertake welfare check calls to the planned schedule because there was not enough staff to match the required workload.

As a result, initial welfare checks were often delayed and subsequent checks were often infrequent.

"Staff reported that at the time of the first and only welfare check call to (the man), the team had a backlog of ­approximately 800 calls," the review said.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU NEED HELP:

 

* If a life is in danger, ring triple-0

* Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800. Online support is open from 8am-midnight

• Suicide Callback Service: 1300 659 467

• eHeadspace: 1800 650 890

• Lifeline: 13 11 14. Online support 7pm-4am daily

• Beyondblue. 1300 22 4636. Online support 3pm-midnight

 

Originally published as Welfare 'bottlenecks' at time of hotel quarantine 'suicide'


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