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St. Basil’s Home for the Aged in Melbourne Hard Hit by COVID-19

MELBOURNE – The elderly have been hard hit during the coronavirus pandemic and families of residents in St. Basil’s Home for the Aged, in Melbourne, Australia “have accused federal authorities of failing the elderly,” ABC Radio National’s Breakfast with Fran (ABCRN) reported on July 28.

St Basil’s Home for the Aged was the “worst hit” with 84 active coronavirus cases, residents and staff, among the 683 cases in 61 elderly care facilities located in the state of Victoria, ABCRN reported, adding that “last week, St Basil's was taken over by the Federal Government, and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews insists the state and Commonwealth are working together to manage the threat in nursing homes.”

Spiros Vasilakis, member of the St. Basil's Facebook Support Group, who lost his 81-year old mother, Maria, to coronavirus on July 23, spoke with ABCRN about the situation noting that his mother had celebrated her birthday on July 10, one day after a staff member at the facility was found to have COVID-19.

Vasilakis said that they began testing residents on July 15, and on July 17, his mother tested positive, but “her vital signs, heart, blood pressure, oxygen levels, were in good order,” after being taken to the hospital for testing, she was returned to St. Basil’s where the doctor assigned there had informed Vasilakis that his mother’s vital signs were still good on July 18, then just 24 hours later, Vasilakis received another call that his mother was dying of COVID-19, ABCRN reported.

The full interview is available online: https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/families-in-melbourne-accuse-federal-govt-of-failing-the-elderly/12497872.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia released the following statement, also posted on the ABCRN website:

“St Basil’s Homes for the Aged – Victoria, together with the Holy Archdiocese as a whole, are greatly pained by the loss of lives and mourn our loved ones who have now fallen asleep. These individuals will remain in our prayers as will their families.

“As we move forward, we remain committed in ensuring that the pastoral needs of each resident and their families are met. Clergy will continue to facilitate pastoral interactions with families affected, using modern technology, to provide comfort.

“Yesterday evening, a representative of our Holy Archdiocese and the Chairman of St. Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Victoria, joined the residents and their families, in a meeting organized by the Australian Government. The meeting was an opportunity to discuss our shared concerns which are the result of the outbreak of COVID-19 in our facility, the interim measures introduced and also our acknowledging of and agreeing with a notice to agree issued by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission. We have immediately implemented  the requirements within the notice as agreed with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, relating to the monitoring and management of the COVID-19 outbreaks at Basil’s and we will continue to cooperate fully with both levels of government so that we can address the needs of our residents and their families.

“We understand that the direction that we received from the Victorian Government for our regular staff to self-isolate from 9 AM on Wednesday, July 22 was an act of precaution for the health and well-being of our residents and our staff during this testing time, which is also our priority and it is shared by both the Australian and Victorian Governments and  the Board of Directors of the Home.

“At present we are fully co-operating with the current management of the home which has been brought in by the Commonwealth Government and who are now in control of the home from the date that we had to leave. We are pleased to see many of our COVID-19 infected residents are being transferred to hospitals for further treatment. We await the test results of our employees and as soon as they are cleared we are eager to return and continue in our mission of caring for our residents.

“As of today, the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre, established by the Australian Government will co-ordinate and expand resources to tackle the challenge of COVID-19 in aged care services. This will enable effective responses for all Aged Care Facilities and ensure communication with families remains prioritized during this time. This, we pray, will reinforce provisions that are there to ultimately protect the lives of those we care for most.

“We pray that the pandemic which has entered our Home and affected many other facilities across the State of Victoria, quickly comes to an end. Our thoughts remain with our residents who are in our facility under lock-down, those being treated in hospital, their families, the families who are dealing with the loss of their loved ones and all who are working tirelessly for the good of all people affected.

“We remind all that St. Basil’s NSW/ACT, SA and WA are all separate entities and not in anyway related to the facility in Victoria. By the grace of God, there are no COVID-19 infections in any of those facilities and the management and staff in those facilities are working hard, together with the Holy Archdiocese, to ensure the continued safety and health of their residents.

“We continue to pray for all the elderly in Homes for the Aged across the nation currently affected by COVID-19 and for the health and wellbeing of all Australians during this pandemic."

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