An Albury man having a heart attack was turned away from Wagga Base Hospital on Friday over a confusion which could have cost him his life.
Greg Mosbey was sent in an ambulance to Wagga Base Hospital from Albury to receive emergency cardiac care but was turned around mid-journey by a cardiologist.
The confusion over whether Albury patients could travel outside the Border bubble due to COVID-19 concerns saw the 58-year-old Thurgoona grandfather refused admission during the emergency situation.
While the issue has since been resolved by Murrumbidgee Local Health District and both hospitals, the distressing ordeal has left his family angered.
Mr Mosbey was eventually airlifted to St Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne in an urgent transfer initiated by Albury Wodonga Health where he is recovering.
His wife Debbie said an already stressful situation was made worse by the confusion.
"This was an emergency," she said.
"The outcome could have been a lot worse, we are just grateful he is OK, but this should never have happened.
"I have been contacted by the NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard, Murrumbidgee Local Health District CEO Jill Ludford as well as a director from Albury Wodonga Health.
"Everyone has been really apologetic but my three sons and I are just really upset all that time was wasted before Greg got the care he deserved and so urgently needed."
Mrs Mosbey - who works for ACM, the publisher of this masthead - said an ambulance was called from their Thurgoona home around 10am but Mr Mosbey didn't arrive in Melbourne until 5pm.
To make matters worse, Mrs Mosbey has been forced to stay in a hotel near the hospital and can only visit for two hours a day.
"We have been sent to a COVID hotspot," she said.
"I am a bit scared to leave my hotel room for anything other than going to see Greg because of the numbers down here.
"I understand the restrictions and why I can be the only visitor but it is really hard.
"The boys are upset their dad isn't close by."
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Albury Wodonga Health chief executive Michael Kalimnios said protocols relating to COVID-19 and transfers between Albury and Wagga hospitals have been clarified and "all issues resolved".
"Patient care is always our number one priority and we're very sorry for the distress caused by this incident," he said.
"Regrettably, there was some confusion regarding the acceptance of transferred patients in the current COVID-19 environment, which resulted in the patient being returned to Albury Hospital.
"AWH immediately initiated an urgent transfer to Melbourne and we are pleased that this resulted in a positive outcome for the patient."
MLHD said in a statement that Wagga hospital has now put in processes to "ensure cardiac patients from Albury Base Hospital who require time critical interventional cardiology treatment are accepted".
"In this case, the Wagga Wagga cardiologist redirected an Albury patient to Melbourne. However, the patient had already left for Wagga Wagga by NSW Ambulance," the statement said.
"Murrumbidgee Local Health District unreservedly apologises to the patient and their family for any distress caused.
"Murrumbidgee Local Health District and Albury Wodonga Health have worked together to ensure there are clear processes in place for patient flow during the COVID-19 pandemic so this circumstance is not repeated."
Mrs Mosbey hopes to bring her husband home from Melbourne later this week, when they will have to self-isolate for 14 days.