Families of residents in St Basils Fawkner, which has been linked to 84 coronavirus cases, have expressed anger and fear about the handling of the outbreak in the facility.
On Sunday, families gathered outside the home according to The Australian, with one woman repeatedly hitting the facility’s buzzer as she demanded information, while another sat nearby with her head in her hands.
Another family member, Nicholas Barboussas, told Nine News he received a call on Saturday afternoon telling him his father was in his room at the nursing home, isolated from the coronavirus outbreak gripping the facility.
In reality, 79-year-old Paul Barboussas was gravely unwell at the Northern Hospital. According to his family, he died on Sunday afternoon from suspected COVID-19.
“Right then, it was just complete and utter anger,” Mr Barboussas told Nine News.
“I was just completely lost for words to hear that because seven hours earlier I had a call from the hospital telling me that my dad is fighting for his life.”
This is one of a number of upsetting communication failures to have been reported by families associated with the facility in Fawkner.
The son of another resident, John Atzarakis, was told on Tuesday his mother, 77-year-old Fotini Atzarakis, would not survive the coronavirus infection she picked up at the nursing home.
Despite the predictions, his mother has so far defied the odds but he told ABC News he believes a lack of leadership from the managers at St Basil’s contributed to the outbreak.
“I would have liked for them to test everyone immediately, I would have liked for everyone to wear protective masks from the day that coronavirus broke out, which was in March,” Mr Atzarakis told ABC News.
“They’re responsible, they’re accountable for people’s lives.”
The federal government held a meeting with families of residents at St Basil’s on Sunday to strengthen lines of communication and outline new strategies to manage the outbreak, Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said.
From Monday, the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre will coordinate efforts to manage the impact of the pandemic across multiple facilities.
“We understand the emotional impact the situation is having on residents, staff and families,” Mr Colbeck said.
“Our priority remains the health and wellbeing of those residents who remain on-site while also ensuring families have the information they need.”
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews added in a press conference that while the aged care sector was regulated and run by the Federal Government, “individual operators, individual providers of aged care … have to be accountable for what they have or haven’t done.”
“I will make known that individual nursing homes, every time there is a death, there is the potential of the coroner looking at that and that would be entirely a matter for them,” he said.