Covid death: home waits weeks for tests

SAFETY MEASURES: A man holding a fumigating machine at Huis John Vorster Picture: SUPPLIED
PROTECTION: Staff members wearing protective gear at Huis John Vorster Picture: SUPPLIED

Huis John Vorster old age home management has confirmed that an elderly resident recently succumbed to Covid-19, but denied claims that eight other residents had died of the virus.

This follows a report from an anonymous source who is a staff member, who claimed that 15 staff members had tested positive at the home. According to the source, staff members who had received Covid-19 positive results this month after testing during June were told not to isolate, but to continue with their duties. “Not all staff members were tested for the virus and the 20 who received their results were only tested after demands by the employees. The premises were not fumigated and eight elderly people died at the institution since June 16. Although it was not confirmed that the other residents died of Covid-19, we suspect they might have contracted the virus because they showed Covid-19 symptoms,” said the source.

Responding to questions by The Rep, John Vorster manager Teresa Latti indicated that after the resident passed away (at Frontier Hospital) the institution requested that she be tested for Covid-19.

We waited nine days for the results, which came back positive. After the results the senior sister contacted the health department so that staff and residents could be tested. After many promises by the department to come to the home, which did not happen, the senior sister offered to do the tests herself. Through the assistance of the Gardens Clinic and Frontier Hospital laboratory we received 20 test kits. As this was not enough we were told to only test staff who were chronically ill and more than 55 years of age.”

Latti said they had to wait 17 days for the return of the results, indicating that 10 staff members tested positive. “The sister contacted Frontier Hospital to find out if we should isolate the staff who tested positive. She was told that, as the two week period had already expired and if the staff did not show any symptoms, it was not necessary to isolate them. Staff are screened and temperatures taken every morning before they go on duty. The department of social development has not helped us with anything – we have not received any subsidies since March 2020 or personal protective equipment.

“If we were to send all our staff home for two weeks who would looked after the elderly and the frail care that requires 24 hour care, the kitchen staff that ensures everyone has food? So we took it upon ourselves to ensure that the staff had masks, gloves, pvc aprons and a personal hand sanitiser to ensure they are all safe,” she said.

The source, however, was concerned about the safety of residents and family members of the staff . “77 old people stay there and we have families that we go home to. Going to work is not a problem, but staff members who tested positive should have isolated for the safety of everyone. I do not think even family members of these old people were contacted. Not all staff members were tested so we do not know if others had contracted the virus.”

Latti, who had forwarded pictures of a man holding a fumigating machine to The Rep reporter and pictures of some of the staff members wearing PPE, said the home was fully sanitised every third day. “Six residents have passed away, of which one was positive, one negative and four of natural causes. At the moment no staff or residents are showing any symptoms whatsoever,” said Latti.

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