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‘We want answers’ – Families of St Basils Fawkner residents unite as COVID outbreak grows

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On Monday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the state’s worst daily coronavirus number yet, with more than 500 new cases confirmed.

Professor Sutton called the numbers of cases related to aged care “disturbing,” saying the “tragedy” was the consequence of community transmission.

At least 84 cases of the 683 total active cases across 71 aged care facilities are linked with the St Basil’s Home in Fawkner cluster.

Mia* is of Greek background, a first degree relative of a resident at St Basil’s Fawkner facility and the creator of a FB group which emerged on July 24th and aims to unite the voices of the affected families and to advocate for their loved ones.

In just three days the group counts more than 133 members, all families of the Melbourne nursing home.

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

“Pretty much all families are on board this group,” Mia told The Greek Herald exclusively.

“I just wanted to connect with other people who had similar experiences so we can support each other through this process and to raise awareness around what’s happening. This is the reason [for the creation of the group]. We want to advocate together to ensure that our loved ones that are inside the facility have a chance to receive the right medical treatment if they are positive and to remain negative if they are negative,” Mia said.

Nicholas Barboussas has expressed anger at the way St Basils Fawkner have handled the coronavirus pandemic within the facility.

The Federal and Victoria governments on the weekend set up a response centre, which started work today, to co-ordinate efforts to curb the virus spread.

It comes after one man, Nicholas Barboussas, was told by St Basil’s in the weekend, his father was in the home and doing well, while hours earlier, Northern Hospital informed him his father was fighting for life.

“We have been contacted by Senator Colbeck. Yesterday we had a private Zoom meeting with him and the families, Dr Brendan Murphy, Janet Anderson from the Aged Care Quality Commission and it’s a start. It was the first meeting, so early days,” says Mia.

“People are unable to get answers”

Although there have been some efforts to provide families with information for their loved ones, Mia said that what is being done is not enough and that “the issue of the communication needs to be addressed immediately.”

Staff outside of St Basil’s Fawkner. Picture: Nicki Connolly.

“People are unable to get through, people are unable to get answers and largely left out in the dark and we are hoping to see something that is addressed immediately. Peoples’ experiences are that social workers are not able to provide much information, other than comfort, which is much appreciated, but at this stage people need information on their loved ones,” says Mia.

“We will try to advocate for changes across all Aged Care. We want to ensure that this does not repeat anywhere so we would really like to be a voice for families to ensure that some kind of best practice model is set up, because we do believe that the families have been largely excluded and that is a top down approach than a collaborative one. We want to make sure our families are alive and we have information on them.”

“We want answers and we want to create change. This is what we want,” she concludes.

In a statement to families posted online, St Basil’s chairman Konstantin Kontis said all staff from St Basil’s had been placed into quarantine and had been forced to leave at 9:00am on Wednesday to hand over to a completely new team appointed by health authorities.

He acknowledged a “gap” in communication with families as staff were removed from the home on Wednesday, but said he understood all relatives’ families had since been back in regular contact.

However, he said that since St Basil’s staff were sent home and a new team brought in, there had been “very limited” information provided back to the original team, hampering their ability to keep families up to date on the situation.

*Not her real name

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