Man paralysed from neck down exposed to Covid-19 on hospital ward

A Co Armagh man who is paralaysed from the neck down was exposed to coronavirus in the hospital at the centre of three outbreaks, UTV can reveal.

Gareth Cahoon is now self-isolating after being told that a patient beside him tested positive.  

Both were in the respiratory ward at Craigavon Area Hospital, where the first Covid-19 cluster was identified.

Gareth and his wife and carer Jennifer are now seeking answers as to why he was put there.

“We were told by numerous nurses that this ward we were on was totally clear,” he said.

Jennifer added: “Somebody needs to answer and say why Gareth was put on that ward, because he shouldn’t have been there.”

The first outbreak within the walls of the hospital was in the respiratory ED, towards the end of August.

But by Friday 4 September, Craigavon reported no further cases there. 

By this stage Gareth was already in Craigavon, having been taken there because he had sepsis. 

He was later moved to respiratory because he had problems with his breathing.

But this day last week he was relieved to be going home, with everything seemingly under control.

Then he was rocked by a telephone call later that day telling him a patient beside him in that unit had tested positive for Covid-19.

“I nearly passed out, and that’s the truth,” Jennifer said.

“Gareth had been home all day and at 9pm I got the phone call and I absolutely nearly died, I couldn’t believe it.”

Gareth has since tested negative, but given that Covid-19 doesn't necessarily show up straight away, he is far from out of the woods.

He is now in the middle of a 14-day isolation and will be tested again next week.

“Just torture,” he said. “Waiting on everything and hoping that I’ll be okay.”

The Southern Trust says it’s unable to comment on any individual patient, but if someone or their family has concerns about their care, they would encourage them to make direct contact.