Elderly residents at Australia’s worst single-site outbreak, St Basil’s Home for the Aged, were dehydrated and “starving” after the entire workforce was stood down last year, a court has heard.
The Coroners Court of Victoria will investigate the circumstances of 50 deaths from Covid-19 at the aged care home in July and August last year, with a pre-inquest hearing held on Wednesday.
The first case at the 150-bed Fawkner facility was a staff member who tested positive on July 8, counsel assisting the coroner Peter Rozen QC told the court.
By the time the evacuation of residents to hospitals began on July 24, the elderly patients were malnourished, dehydrated, in poor general health and had pressure sores, Mr Rozen said.
A hospital nurse told him of the condition of one resident: “When I checked her I observed a pressure sore. I hadn’t seen an injury like that in 20 years. It hadn’t been dressed; it looked nasty. You were able to see into the wound, and see the tendon.”
Another frontline worker told him “we were really struggling to feed residents”, with concerns about residents “starving to death”, Mr Rozen said.
He said a “particularly egregious omission” was that authorities did not arrange for interpreters for the replacement workforce, even though the majority of residents spoke Greek.