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Old age home hit hard

Family members of a resident of Huis Ebehaeser who passed away from Covid-19 last week are concerned about a lack of transparency regarding Covid-19 infections at the old age home in Cloetesville.

Carlene Isaacs whose mother, Franciena Jacobs (72) passed away Wednesday 17 June, says she regularly phoned the old age home in the week leading up to her mother’s death. “When I spoke to my mother on 9 June, I could hear she was having trouble breathing. One of the staff members told me she had the flu. That same night I drove to Stellenbosch to take medication for her.”

According to Isaacs, a staff member said her mother was not well and did not want to come to the phone when she called again on 11 June. “That was when I started asking questions about Covid-19 at Huis Ebenhaeser. I asked if they have had any Covid-19 positive cases and the staff member said, ‘not that she is aware of’. I asked what their plans were for residents and whether they were going to be tested. A manager told me my mom will be tested on Tuesday (16 June).”

Isaacs says she phoned the old age home again on Wednesday afternoon 17 June to find out whether her mother had indeed been tested. “They said my mom was transported to the hospital per ambulance and that they had tried to reach me.”

Isaacs, who lives in Kraaifontein, immediately drove to the hospital. “A doctor told me my mother is in isolation and that she would be tested for Covid-19 and sent back to Huis Ebehaeser. I wasn’t allowed to see her. When I called again at 19:00 I spoke to the night nurse. She went to check on my mother. About 15 minutes later the phone call was dropped. I called back and a different nurse told me my mother had passed away.

“I am deeply unhappy about the fact that I wasn’t given direct answers regarding Covid-19 cases at the old age home. Families should be informed so that they can have the option to fetch their relatives.”

As per national lockdown regulations no visitors have been allowed at old age homes since the start of the national lockdown on 27 March. Isaac says when she went to drop off things for her mother, she left it at security as per the protocols.

According to Ciunza Lukusa Valdaise, a manager at Huis Ebenhaeser, families of residents that show symptoms of Covid-19 are informed. He says 17 residents of Huis Ebenhaeser tested positive for Covid-19, of which 10 have died from the virus. In total 17 employees have also tested positive for Covid-19, of which 12 have recovered. “There are currently five active employee cases. All of them are in isolation. Residents who have tested positive are also in quarantine.”

Valdaise says the nursing home has implemented policies and protocols as per the directives received from the Department of Social Development (DSD) and the Department of Health (DOH).

“The first positive case was on 20 May. One of the nursing staff members showed symptoms of Covid-19 and was sent to the clinic. She tested positive and was quarantined for 14 days.”

According to Valdaise, tracing of residents and employees who were in contact with positive persons are done and they are also kept in isolation until results are received. “More positive cases were isolated and families were informed. Arrangements were made with a doctor of Stellenbosch Hospital to test residents in our facility. Health education was given to nursing staff and residents.

“We report daily to the local health department and DOH and report challenges and requests of PPE and staffing and sanitising of the facility. Sanitising of the facility is done by a team of volunteers from a local ministry once a week. There are daily reports to the board of directors of the facility about our challenges and needs,” he added.

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