Chris’s family gathering at Christmas resulted in four COVID cases, and his father in ICU on a ventilator
It was like any other Christmas Eve in Queensland — a family gathering to celebrate the festive season after a day at the coast.
The only difference, in 2021, was the Omicron strain of COVID-19 was rapidly spreading through the community.
Days after the small event, four out of six of Chris Healy's family were positive for COVID-19.
After learning she was a close contact, his mother sought a test on Christmas Day and by new year, his father Peter was admitted to hospital, becoming one of the first Queenslanders ventilated in intensive care during the current wave.
"He's 80 years old, my mum's in her mid-70s," Chris Healy said.
"Dad started feeling unwell and he actually said to me on the phone on the Sunday [after Christmas] that he felt like he probably did have it — that was his gut feeling.
"The effects of that escalated over the coming days and then on New Year's Eve he had a fairly ordinary night — shortness of breath, a bit of pain, so the ambulance was called on New Year's Day."
Catch up on the main COVID-19 news from January 5 with a look back at our blog'Not the greatest of starts to the new year'
His father Peter was admitted to the intensive care unit at Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane and was ventilated late that night.
"So not the greatest of starts to the new year," Chris said.
"Thankfully he's been improving and we remain pretty optimistic that with the great care the Prince Charles staff provides … I know they'll give him every possible chance to recover.
"We've learnt from the staff in the ward that he's becoming more responsive, so with a squeeze of the hand he's actually acknowledging I guess, some guidance that they're giving him in terms of his care.
"He's becoming more aware and Mum's been speaking to him over the phone."
Chris Healy, with his mum and dad, said the hospital staff at the Prince Charles Hospital had been "wonderful".(Supplied)
As of Wednesday there were two people with COVID ventilated in Queensland hospitals and eight more in intensive care units, as daily case numbers continue to reach new highs.
Chris Healy said the hospital staff at the Prince Charles Hospital had been "wonderful" in helping his family communicate with his dad.
"I've spoken to Dad — whilst it's been a one-way conversation, I've been able to talk to him and allow him to hear the voices of loved ones — me and my mum," he said.
"He's sedated, so he's in a dream state currently, so what I talked to Dad about was just what I've been up to — try to give him a bit of a window into my world.
"I actually bought the paper — he's an avid reader of the paper and reads that from cover to cover.
"He loves to have a punt, a bet, so I walked him through the form guide."
Chris Healy says he is "pretty optimistic" his father will recover "with the great care the Prince Charles [Hospital] staff provides".(Facebook: The Prince Charles Hospital)'Haven't seen my kids'
Chris and his partner are both negative but his mother and two children tested positive.
His children spent about eight hours lining up for tests on Boxing Day and have been isolating separately from him, which he said had been tough, although they had not been seriously unwell.
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"I've delivered a couple of care packages to the kids because they'd been quarantining," he said.
"That's been difficult — I've not had a period of seven days where I haven't seen my kids, so that's been quite challenging.
"We've been Facetiming and phone-calling but it's the physical contact, being able to give them a bit of a squeeze or a hug — just some time where you're in close proximity.
"I delivered some provisions out to Mum and while we were able to chat at a distance, we're both masked up — I can't give her a hug, reassure her — it makes it difficult."
Mr Healy said he was also finding the sense of division, fear and blame around COVID-19 to be challenging.
"I think it's a case of trying to rise above all that … I think we'll look back in time and probably shake our heads at the way this, what it is that's played out, has actually happened," he said.
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