Australia: Little girl died after admitted to Canberra Hospital with the flu: Rozella Spadafora

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The devastated family of a little girl who died after being admitted to hospital with the flu are demanding answers, as authorities reveal the case will be investigated.

Rozella Spadafora was taken to Canberra Hospital emergency department by her mother Katrina on July 4 this year - her fifth birthday.

The bright and energetic little girl had seen her GP that week and was prescribed steroids but her mother knew something was wrong when she asked to be carried to the living room that day.

She went back to the GP who advised her to go to hospital where blood tests could be run after hours.

But after arriving at 7pm and waiting in the emergency department, Katrina was told to give Rozella water, Hydralyte and Pananadol by hospital staff.

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Rozella Spadafora (pictured) went to Canberra Hospital with the flu but died 30 hours later  © Provided by Daily Mail Rozella Spadafora (pictured) went to Canberra Hospital with the flu but died 30 hours later

'We took Rozalia in and never came home with her,' her mother Katrina told A Current Affair.

She was accompanied by Rozella's grandmother Maria Callipari and the two believe nurses at the facility were so overworked and under-resourced they dismissed the little girl's symptoms as minor.

Katrina said two nurses told them to go home and see the GP in the morning, but they refused.

'We just looked at each other and thought, 'we're not here for a joke, we're here because she is sick,' Rozalia's grandmother, Maria Callipari, said.

Ms Spadafora said hours went by as they waited for further treatment with Rozella sleeping but 'white and pale'.

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The distraught mother said she was not more insistent someone treat her daughter immediately because she had already been made to feel like a 'pest'.

Rozella then began vomiting.

Her mother Kristina (pictured) wants answers about why her daughter was not given treatment earlier © Provided by Daily Mail Her mother Kristina (pictured) wants answers about why her daughter was not given treatment earlier

'When we rang the bell, no one came and we had to do everything and I tried to find warm blankets, because she was cold,' Maria said.

At 3am nurses finally took blood for testing and four hours after that at 7am she was taken for a chest X-ray and liver ultrasound.


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It was after this her mother was told Rozella has inflammation around her heart which can occur in children with influenza A, known technically as myocarditis.

Doctors told her she needed to be rushed to Sydney for treatment - with her condition enough to warrant a team of pediatric specialists to be deployed from Sydney in a helicopter to collect her and bring her back.

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But she never left Canberra Hospital.

The little girl had myocarditis a complication of influenza A © Provided by Daily Mail The little girl had myocarditis a complication of influenza A

The family were told the aircraft could not land at the hospital - but footage from the same night taken by a different family shows a helicopter landing on the helipad.

The family also say they are yet to be given a proper explanation of what happened.

Rozella went into cardiac arrest at Canberra Hospital almost 30 hours after first arriving.

Despite doctors and nurses giving her CPR for a full hour she did not survive.

'They called us aside and said, 'she's gone' ... We just had to leave and leave her there with no answers.'

Cardiologist Dr Ross Walker said while myocarditis is difficult to diagnose quickly for non-cardiology specialists, it was clear Rozella's condition was deteriorating before and after she was admitted to Canberra Hospital.

He said if the condition was found earlier there is a chance she would have responded to treatment.

The Coroner has this week confirmed there will be an inquest into Rozella's death.

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The family is calling for more action to be taken by bureaucrats to relive the pressure on the hospital system.

They want to see a dedicated children's hospital built in Canberra - a facility that could have saved Rozella's life.

Rozella's (pictured) family want to see a specialist children's hospital built in Canberra © Provided by Daily Mail Rozella's (pictured) family want to see a specialist children's hospital built in Canberra

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said in ACT Parliament that she had not made contact with the family because she doesn't personally know them.

Opposition health spokeswoman Leanne Castley has met with the family.

'We spent a couple of hours hearing about this story. This family is heartbroken. This is truly tragic,' Ms Castley said.

'There is a family completely devastated and their little five-year-old girl is not at home.'

Nurses and midwives across the Australia having been holding protests in recent months saying they are exhausted with unworkable nurse-to-patient ratios and they need more support.

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