Seventh person dies at Sydney aged care home
A seventh resident infected with coronavirus has died inside the Newmarch House nursing home near Penrith.
NSW chief medical officer Kerry Chant confirmed the fatality was an 89-year-old resident of Newmarch House, while another staff member had also tested positive overnight.
"There has also been one new case in a staff member at Newmarch House which brings the total to 54 cases, including 20 staff and 34 residents," Ms Chant said this morning.
Operators Anglicare announced: "this is a very sad time for the family but also for the residents and staff who knew this resident well".
The latest death came just hours after anxious family members gathered for their daily rally at the gates of the home demanding better care for, and communication with, their parents in lockdown.
Anglicare chief executive Grant Millard said everything possible was being done to care for their loved ones.
"Anglicare's key focus at the moment is to provide a safe and secure home for our residents. All our energies are directed at eliminating this virus from Newmarch House." he said.
The home reported yesterday it was back to a "full complement of staff" with the arrival of 22 emergency backfill workers but relatives of residents in lockdown still hold grave fears.
The Daily Telegraph understands 22 staff from private firm Aspen Medical arrived for work at Newmarch yesterday, as the federal government and Anglicare scrambled to backfill 55 regular staff members off sick or in isolation.
Horror stories emerged in the last week of elderly residents going unattended after falling over or missing medication and the shocking standard of meals.
Louise Payne said updates on her COVID-19 positive 89-year-old mother Yvonne Vane had "improved" but not enough.
"We've started getting calls every night from a registered nurse telling us how she's going, they're very comprehensive," Ms Payne said.
"On Friday Mum deteriorated, she could've gone either way, and when I rang again on Sunday it took me three hours to get hold of (staff). Anglicare told us they've done everything to improve communications, but clearly not," she said.
"It's hard on everyone, Anglicare's trying their best and all of us feel so grateful for the extra nurses. We're not here to vilify anyone but things need to be better."
Anthony Bowe has stood outside the Caddens-based facility "every night" for the past two weeks after his 76-year-old mum Patricia Shea tested positive for COVID-19.
He called the experience a "rollercoaster" and criticised Anglicare for being "secretive" despite the many inquiries from families.
"Everything's been so secretive, there's been no point of liaison for us … I rang Mum one night and I'd never heard her sound so disoriented in my life," Mr Bowe said.
"It's been death after death, one night we turned up and the coroner was here, another night there was an ambulance, and you just don't know if it's your (loved one) they're there for."
The small group of 10 protesters are campaigning for a hotline so they can check on their loved ones more easily.
Mary Watson said she was distraught to hear about the standard of care being given to her 93-year-old mother Alice Bacon who had tested positive for COVID-19 on April 24.
"Mum's down to 47kg, she's been served cold cups of tea and frozen cheese sandwiches … they've shut down the laundry service, Mum's been washing her nightie and a pair of pants in her sink, I'm worried she'll slip and fall.
"She rang me the other day in a complete panic, and I couldn't get onto anyone at (Newmarch House) to go and help her."
In an online seminar with relatives and health officials last week, which has been seen by The Telegraph, Anglicare chief executive Grant Millard explained many workers simply refused to enter the home.
"They're just scared and we can understand that at a human level," Mr Millard said.
"This morning we had guaranteed number of workers who were going to turn up from a number of agencies, which was going to be 10 (registered nurses) and 28 carers and we thought that's going to be a good compliment for today.
"In the end four registered nurses turned up and 20 carers, that's the reality of this challenge."
Originally published as Seventh person dies at Sydney aged care home