Fri, 23 Oct, 2020 – 07:44
“We were abandoned…and nobody cares” — that was the damning verdict of the director of nursing at a home where 25 out of 27 residents tested positive for Covid 19.
Patricia MacGabhann was forced to take to the national airwaves to plead for help and said elderly residents in private nursing homes have been forgotten about.
Seven of the eight nursing staff and 10 of the 11 care assistants at the Nightingale nursing home in, Co Galway, also tested positive. One resident has died and two others are being treated in hospital.
The nightmare began on Monday evening when one resident was hospitalised after testing positive. All staff were swabbed and when the results came back on Tuesday evening, 25 out of the 27 residents were positive.
After the nursing and care staff fell ill only one nurse and one care worker were left on duty to care for all the residents for two days.
Ms MacGabhann, who also tested positive, said staff were left feeling helpless and alone.
“We’re alone. We’re like a little island down there in the middle of rural Ireland, and nobody cares,” said Ms MacGabhann.
“Our residents. Yes, they’re in a private nursing home. They’re not in the public system, but they are citizens of this country. And this country has an obligation to look after them. They’ve contributed to this country for decades. And now nobody cares. What kind of civilized society is that?”
She said calls to the HSE on Sunday and Monday were ignored. Staff were told no agency nursing staff were available.
“They promised us carers and they’ve never materialised. We didn’t even get a phone call to say that they weren’t coming. I’m devastated. I can’t put into words how helpless we all feel.
“And we felt that we were going to get help and it just hasn’t transpired. And you know, our residents are down there trying to keep them alive.
“I tested positive, I don’t feel 100%. I’m not bedridden or anything. I feel that if I had to I could go down there and care for people but I just can’t. I’m not allowed to do that. And we feel completely and utterly helpless,” she told the Joe Duffy Show.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said he could not go into detail about the circumstances of any individual nursing home, but that staff have been deployed to the Nightingale nursing home. File picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Responding to the growing political criticism, health minister Stephen Donnelly said he could not go into detail about the circumstances of any individual nursing home, but that staff have been deployed to the Nightingale nursing home.
He also tried to play down concerns about other nursing homes. It emerged yesterday that there have been over 20 other outbreaks in nursing homes in the past two weeks.
He said: “Significant financial supports have been given to all nursing homes. Significant personal protection equipment is being supplied.”
However, Tadhg Daly, Nursing Homes Ireland CEO, said engagement and support by public health teams and local HSE Covid Response Teams must be consistent and constant.
“We need a collective, unified approach, entailing the provision of immediate and essential support for healthcare providers when Covid-19 emerges. The critical support is particularly required around staff in the unfortunate situation with staff off in isolation. This is a most virulent virus.”
Meanwhile, a further three deaths and 1,066 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed by the National Public Health Emergency Team.