St Basil’s Fawkner: Inquest into Australia’s deadliest aged care COVID-19 outbreak begins

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Victoria’s coroner has begun its inquest into the deaths of 50 residents, 45 of whom died with COVID-19, at St Basil’s Homes for the Aged at Fawkner in Melbourne’s north in July and August last year.

According to ABC News, the first day of the inquest heard that at one point a deceased patient was wheeled out in front of other residents, that infected residents were mingling with the healthy, bins were overflowing and medication was left on the floor.

Coroner John Cain also heard that Victorian Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, stood down the entire workforce at St Basil’s Fawkner despite warnings from doctors that residents would be in danger and knowing the federal government was struggling to find a replacement workforce.

READ MORE: Coroners Court to hold month-long inquest into deaths at St Basil’s Fawkner.

On Monday, the inquest also heard from some of the 65 witnesses. 

Christine Golding, whose mother Efraxia Tsalanidis was one of the residents who died at St Basil’s Fawkner, said the neglect her mother suffered at the facility “was inhumane, cruel and degrading.”

The coroner was shown a confronting image of Ms Tsalanidis in bed, wearing a white T-shirt and staring into space, taken by Ms Golding through a window.

READ MORE: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese appoints new Chairman of St Basil’s Victoria.

“Her eyes are terrible, lost, awful,” her daughter told the hearing, saying the experience of her mother’s last days were petrifying.

Christine Golding’s mother Efraxia died at St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Melbourne. Photo: ABC News.

“Never in a million centuries did I ever think that would be the way I would find my mother, I would get to spend the last moments with my mother… It’s been heart-breaking. It’s been traumatic.

READ MORE: Families of residents in St Basils Fawkner express anger at handling of outbreak within facility.

“I want the true story to be told and documented… Australians deserve to know why our aged care COVID-19 preparedness was so poor, why it spectacularly failed my mother and contributed to her premature death.”

Judge Cain will investigate how prepared both state and federal health departments were for the outbreak, how it started at St Basil’s, the spread of the virus, the decision to furlough staff and how future tragedies could be prevented.

The inquest continues.

Source: ABC News.

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