The manager of Melbourne’s St Basil’s aged care home has been accused of failing to pass on clinical notes, keys and computer passwords to the staff who came in to run the facility as a deadly COVID-19 outbreak took hold.

Key points:

  • A coronial inquiry into the outbreak heard Vicky Kos failed to pass on crucial patient information in a handover to agency staff
  • The inquiry has heard the basic needs of many residents were neglected after the handover and suffered dehydration, malnourishment and pressure sores
  • Ms Kos is due to give evidence to the inquiry next month

Fifty elderly residents died when COVID spread through the home in July and August last year.

A coronial inquest has heard the allegations against St Basil’s manager Vicky Kos relate to her conduct at a crucial handover meeting early in the outbreak on July 22.

An agency workforce was taking over the facility after Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton classified the entire St Basil’s staff as close contacts.

The inquest heard at the time, Ms Kos was opposed to the decision to sideline her staff, arguing standards would slip under the agency workforce.

It is now alleged Ms Kos failed to pass on clinical notes, keys, and computer passwords to the new workforce.

Clinical notes are the type of document that might indicate what medication a resident was taking.

The allegations were raised by Mary Anne Harley QC, the barrister representing Professor Sutton and the Victorian health department.

Ms Harley said they were based on witness statements from agency workers that are yet to be made public.

“Those statements in my submission give strong foundation for the part of the question that deals with the non-provision of clinical information both at handover and subsequently,” Ms Harley said.

Coroner John Cain agreed there were question marks over what information had been passed on.

“Some of the passwords for example and some keys I think they couldn’t access,” Judge Cain said.

“Now, whether that was because of what Ms Kos might or might not have done, I don’t think we know yet.”

Ms Kos is due to give evidence next month.

Kitchen worker tells inquiry of resident left without food and medication

The decision to furlough the St Basil’s workforce had disastrous consequences.

“The basic needs of the many highly dependent residents were neglected to a point that a number presented at hospital dehydrated, malnourished, suffering from serious pressure sores and in very poor general health, in addition to being COVID-19 positive,” counsel assisting the coroner Peter Rozen QC said in his opening statement last week.

The problems emerged on the day of the handover, according to Connie Apidopolous, who worked in the St Basil’s kitchen.

Ms Apidopolous told the inquest she helped the agency staff on the morning of the handover, but within hours of the new kitchen staff taking charge residents were complaining about the service.

“I’ll never forget a lady was saying, ‘Where is my food, my medication? It’s 1:30pm and still we didn’t eat and no medication’.”

St Basil’s aged care manager accused of failing to pass on keys, passwords as outbreak struck
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