The daughter of an elderly man who tested positive for COVID-19 in a Sydney aged care home says unvaccinated staff who brought the virus in are “a disgrace”.
- The three residents have been taken to Westmead Hospital as a precaution
- Summit Care says 96 per cent of the 149 residents have been vaccinated
- The home is being cleaned, and staff and residents are tested regularly
Summit Care confirmed three residents at its Baulkham Hills facility, in the city’s north-west, had contracted the virus.
The three people are aged in their 80s and 90s.
While all had been given COVID-19 jabs, the same cannot be said for the staff at the centre, where single rooms can cost up to $1.5 million, plus extra daily payments.
Two workers tested positive for COVID-19 during the week, sending the facility, which is home to 149 residents, into lockdown.
Summit Care’s chief operating officer Michelle Sloane said one of the staff members who tested positive was unvaccinated and that she was “unclear” about whether the other had been given a jab.
Ms Sloane said only about one-third of the facility’s staff had been vaccinated for COVID-19.
Two of the three residents who tested positive were last night taken to Westmead Hospital as a precaution.
NSW recorded 16 locally acquired COVID-19 infections in the 24 hours to 8:00pm on Saturday — 13 of them were in isolation while infectious.
In a statement, Summit Care said the residents were not showing symptoms and were in “good spirits”.
However, the daughter of one of them, Kathie Melocco, said she was furious some staff at the facility were not vaccinated.
“We assumed they were. I think it’s a disgrace,” she said.
“If I had known, that would’ve meant I would’ve made other decisions around my parents.
“I’m just so angry. We’ve got to do better.
“I just want to hold their hand and give them comfort.”
Her parents, Allan and Lona Patrick, share a room at the facility. Her father, 88, tested positive last night and her mother, 87, was still waiting for her results.
“My mother is deaf, and my father is blind. Last night, he was chucked into an ambulance with no idea what’s going on,” she said.
The family is requesting the couple — who have been together since they were 13-years-old — be kept together.
“If this is the end of their lives, we want them to be together,” the woman said.
“I’m not allowing him to die alone.”
Most residents vaccinated
This morning, several people wearing PPE entered the aged care facility, carrying boxes from a mobile pathology lab.
The nursing home is being deep cleaned and staff and residents are being swabbed for COVID-19 regularly.
“With 96 per cent of our 149 residents vaccinated and the measures we are taking to ensure their health and safety, we are confident about the outcome,” a Summit Care spokesperson said.
NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said authorities were “very concerned” for the three residents who tested positive.
“Obviously, we’re very concerned about any COVID in elderly patients,” she said.
“We know that as you get older and have underlying — additional underlying health conditions, that getting COVID is a very, very significant issue for you.
“So, of course, we’re very concerned.”
The sentiment was also shared by Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd who said the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) had met on Sunday to discuss the response in NSW.
“The Commonwealth is working in partnership with New South Wales and the facility staff,” Professor Kidd said.
“The facility is in full lockdown and additional workforce supports have been activated and testing of residents and staff has also been activated.”
Sydney’s current COVID-19 outbreak began when a limousine driver working at the airport became infected. The so-called Bondi cluster has now spread beyond the eastern suburbs to Western Sydney.
Ms Sloane said about 75 per cent of the facility’s staff were isolating at home.
She said the centre was planning to have all staff vaccinated “towards the end of this outbreak”.
“We have been advised that to do it now it might be of no benefit to everyone and, if anything, it will mean they suffer from side effects from the vaccine and we lose more staff,” she said.
Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour have been in lockdown for just over a week, due to the COVID-19 outbreak in NSW.
Social distancing restrictions have also been imposed on all other areas in the state.
There have been 277 locally acquired COVID-19 infections in NSW since the limousine drive tested positive last month.
The Bondi cluster, which stands at 222 cases, has been NSW’s largest of the pandemic.
A total of 45,079 tests were conducted in the 24 hours to 8:00pm on Saturday.