Another resident has died at the Newmarch House aged-care home in Western Sydney after contracting coronavirus, prompting the NSW Premier to condemn the situation as “horrific” and “unacceptable”.
A 74-year-old man died on Thursday afternoon, bringing the death toll at the facility to 13 after a staff member caused an outbreak by working six shifts despite having mild COVID-19 symptoms.
“The coronavirus has had a devastating impact on all our residents and families,” Anglicare, which operates the facility, said.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian told the ABC the situation at Newmarch House was “horrific” and she has called on the federal government to intervene.
“The federal government [has] involved the [National Aged Care Advocacy Program] to deal with the matter,” she said.
“Because what’s happening there isn’t acceptable and unfortunately you do notice a difference in the way people who run these aged care homes across the nation are dealing with the issue.
“This particular operator has been left wanting on a number of levels.”
The National Aged Care Advocacy Program supports the elderly in aged-care facilities by helping them understand their rights and to make informed decisions while in care.
Although states do not regulate aged care homes, the NSW government has provided extra support to Newmarch House.
The Prime Minister and state and territory leaders were to discuss further guidelines for the aged-care sector at Friday’s national cabinet meeting.
NSW Health confirmed nine new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, taking the state’s total number of cases to 3025.
More than 7000 people were tested on Thursday.
Despite stringent infection control measures, three of those new infections were residents at Newmarch House.
There are now 59 confirmed cases at the facility in Caddens, with 37 residents and 22 staff testing positive.
Anglicare said the new cases may be “historical transmissions” and a reflection of the rigorous ongoing testing.
“We will be investigating further how this has occurred.”
Anglicare CEO Grant Millard previously told the ABC the aged-care home had become a “pseudo-hospital” since the outbreak began.
More than 60 staff cannot work as they have been instructed to self-isolate at home.
Mr Millard said staff who were still working were doing it tough, undertaking 12-hour shifts in full personal protective equipment.
“What a brave, courageous group of people,” he said.
Anglicare has faced significant backlash about a lack of communication with families, with many claiming the phones were hardly ever answered.
Mr Millard said these criticisms were “to an extent … true”.
“We have been under extreme pressure.”
Families were also dismayed at the lack of contact with their loved ones and called for scheduled video calls and visits through closed windows.
Anglicare said it had distributed mobile phones to each resident and introduced window-visits. It was also looking for more ways to improve social communication.