NSW Health has apologised to patients at Crookwell District Hospital in southern NSW who were denied access to public toilets and were forced to urinate in bedpans in rooms.
The mother of a five-year-old girl who was given a bedpan after nearly urinating on the floor said her family felt like “second-class citizens”.
Lana McDonald and her two daughters were placed in the hospital’s COVID-19 isolation room after presenting with temperatures over the Easter long weekend.
While waiting to see a doctor, Ms McDonald asked if her eldest daughter could use the toilet, but was told she couldn’t as it would need to be cleaned afterwards.
“The nurse said, ‘You’ll just have to hold it’. But being a kid, that wasn’t going to happen,” Ms McDonald said.
“I was a bit shocked at first, so I asked if we could have a bedpan, which we had to use in the room. It felt so degrading and the worst thing was, they didn’t even clean the room from the previous patient.”
Other Crookwell Hospital patients have described similar experiences – including long wait times for bedpans – but asked for their stories not to be published.
Following Ms McDonald’s complaint, NSW Health granted patients use of the public toilets at Crookwell Hospital, so long as they use disinfectant wipes to clean the toilet afterwards.
“I’m not blaming the staff for what happened, it was the management that made the policy and they were just following the COVID-19 policy,” Ms McDonald said.
“I also understand the COVID-19 thing, but to be denied the basic right to use a toilet is disgusting.
“Cleaning is not an issue to refuse the use of a toilet.”
NSW Health has apologised to the McDonald family and issued the following statement: “Patients who present at Crookwell Hospital with COVID-19 symptoms are taken to an isolation room, which does not have access to its own bathroom, to be tested and assessed.
“Prior to this week, to minimise the risk of COVID-19 spreading, symptomatic patients were not given access to the common toilet.
“Given the short wait for a COVID test, use of a toilet was rarely ever required. However, on the rare occasion it was, the patient was offered a bedpan or urinal to use in the privacy of the isolation room,” the spokesperson said.
“The current reduced risk of COVID-19 community transmission supports the easing of restrictions and the hospital has put into place a new protocol to allow patients to use the shared toilet which will be disinfected after use.”