Second Melbourne aged care home charged over deadly COVID-19 outbreak

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Heritage Care has become the second Melbourne aged care home to be charged over its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic after 34 residents at its Epping Gardens facility died from the virus.

The first aged care home to be charged by WorkSafe Victoria with nine breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS) was St Basil’s Fawkner in Melbourne’s north last week.

An outbreak at St Basil’s Fawkner resulted in 94 staff members testing positive for the virus and 45 residents dying of COVID-related complications.

On Monday, WorkSafe Victoria charged Heritage Care with three breaches of the OHS Act, saying it failed to provide the necessary training to enable staff to perform their work safely and without risks to health.

Medical workers speak at the entrance of the Epping Gardens aged care facility in Melbourneon July 29, 2020. Photo: AFP / voanews.com.

Thirty-four residents at the Epping Gardens facility died after contracting COVID-19 during the outbreak, which occurred between March and July 2020. A total of 89 residents and 65 staff tested positive for the virus.

The penalty for each of the offences is a fine of up to $1.49 million, a WorkSafe statement said.

Heritage runs five homes in Victoria and six in NSW.

As of last year, the company is divided in ownership between Peter Arvanitis, his wife Areti, who jointly own one half, while the other belongs to Tony Antonopoulos. Arvanitis resigned as Heritage Care director in September 2020 due to an increasing focus on he and his wife’s wealth.

READ MORE: Report reveals new findings into COVID response in Victoria’s aged care homes.

Source: Nine News.

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