By ERWIN CHLANDA
Alice Springs hospital and Covid-19 staff denied local identity Maria Diano her last wish: To say goodbye, on her deathbed, to her daughter Liza Dubois, who is detained in the Todd Facility a kilometre away.
Italian born Mrs Diano, 89, for decades the subject of countless fond and amusing anecdotes around town, had suffered a stroke and was in the hospital’s palliative care unit, according to Ms Dubois.
She was forced into two weeks’ quarantine notwithstanding that she is fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and had returned illness-free results in all of four recent tests.
She had been in Victoria for medical treatment and spent most of her time there either in hospital, or in the home of an acquaintance.
“I am a low risk,” she says.
Upon return she made repeated desperate applications to see her mother. They were denied.
Mrs Diano died yesterday, in hospital, having wished all her life to die at home.
A prominent local expert in dealing with the pandemic, when asked for a comment by the Alice Springs News, said: “It is really vital that we start rewarding people who are fully vaccinated in many different ways.
“If the person is beyond Day 7 since they have been in a hotspot [as is the case with Ms Dubois] and have a negative test, I agree they should be allowed to see their dying mother, especially with full Personal Protection Equipment.
“The mother could perhaps have been wheeled to an outside area.
“I think [the way this was handled] is overly harsh and these sorts of decisions undermine public support for the measures that are really needed to protect everyone,” says the expert.
“Maria is survived by her seven children, was a Nanna to 20 grandchildren and 33 great grandchildren, and made the place it is today, did the hard yards, was a Territory pioneering legend,” recalls Ms Dubois.
This included making the 3657 bricks for the house she and her husband built in Chewings Street in the 1950s, and despite a long struggle with the English language (until she went to school at age 65, followed by a computer course) frequently hosting celebrities there, including Albert Namatjira.
He painted a mural for her, inadvertently painted over by Mr Diano.
Bill Harney was their neighbour; they were threatened with a rifle by Olive Pink; and Mrs Diano worked as a cleaner at Pine Gap.
“She would always have a cup of coffee and cake waiting for you if you were a politician, policeman, or someone she wanted to get something from,” recalls Ms Dubois (pictured).
“She would keep you on your toes, and tell you straight up how it is.
“There was always a meal on the table for the eight of us and the rest of the neighbourhood.
“Our large family eventually went in separate ways.
“Mum stayed in her beloved Italian and Australian home. At the age of 89 years she didn’t lose one part of her memory. She was sharp as a tack, and remembered everything.”
We are asking Health Minister Natasha Fyles for an explanation.
PHOTOS: Mrs Diano during a Skype session with her daughter Liza (inset) and with her dog.