A Victorian aged-care home failed to isolate a resident who contracted COVID-19 during a hospital stay, with health officials now battling a second outbreak at the facility.
There are now eight active coronavirus cases at Estia Health Keilor in Melbourne’s north-west after an elderly man was forced to share his room with another resident upon returning from a hospital visit.
The patient has since returned to hospital with two other residents who contracted the virus. Four staff have also been infected.
The man with whom the infectious resident shared a room has returned two negative tests.
The New Daily understands the resident was originally transferred to Footscray Hospital on September 6 for non-coronavirus-related treatment.
During his stay in the hospital, he shared a room with another patient.
Upon the resident’s return to the Keilor Downs nursing home, he was immediately moved back into his shared room with another man.
Within days, the nursing home received a phone call saying the patient who had shared a room with their resident in hospital had tested positive to COVID-19.
An Estia spokesperson said “full single-use PPE was used for all interactions with him and separate full single-use PPE was used for the other male resident he shares a room with”.
“Both residents are bed bound – so not mobile or moving around the
home,” the Estia spokesperson said.
Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) was approached for comment but did not respond before deadline.
It is the second coronavirus outbreak at Estia Health Keilor after two residents and two staff members tested positive in early August.
Family members are furious.
“They never should’ve put that man back in his room,” said Maria, a family member of a resident who did not want her real name published over a fear of backlash from Estia Health.
“Their excuse was they didn’t have a spare room.
“I said, ‘How can you do that? You didn’t put him into quarantine for 14 days when he returned? You should have returned him back to the hospital then’.”
Another family member, who also wished to remain anonymous, said she saw some staff members were not wearing full PPE when she visited the nursing home last week.
Federal health advice states that full PPE includes long-sleeved gowns, surgical masks, protective eyewear like a face shield, and disposable, non-sterile gloves.
“Some had face masks and shields, and some had gloves but others didn’t,” the woman told The New Daily.
“They said if they’re not with the resident for more than 15 minutes then they don’t have to wear PPE.”
Estia Health has disputed these claims, saying all staff were told to wear masks and face shields on duty, as well as gowns and gloves when coming into close contact with residents for extra protection.
The woman’s relative has tested positive to COVID-19.
“It’s very devastating,” she said.
“I want to fight this because I believe the nursing home is at fault … by bringing this gentleman back into the home.”
Estia Health’s chief executive Ian Thorley held a 30-minute video call meeting with family members on Tuesday night where he confirmed the outbreak.
A bad year for Estia Health
The ASX-listed Estia Health is one of Australia’s largest aged-care providers, operating 69 facilities across the country.
The company has been among the worst hit by the coronavirus in Melbourne, with six of its 27 Victorian sites linked to outbreaks.
Of those, just two facilities have accounted for a staggering 228 cases – 134 at a nursing home in Ardeer and 94 at another in Heidelberg West, federal data shows.
Other outbreaks have occurred at homes in Glen Waverley, where seven cases were recorded; Keysborough, where 20 cases were recorded; and South Morang, where three cases were recorded.
Although aged care is a federal responsibility regulated by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, Victoria’s DHHS also offers coronavirus safety guidelines for aged-care providers.