Two more residents connected to a crisis-hit nursing home at the centre of a Covid-19 cluster have died after testing positive for the virus.
Up until last Friday, six residents connected to the nursing home in Kerry had succumbed to the virus, according to a statement from HSE chief operations officer Anne O’Connor.
It has since emerged that two more residents linked to Oaklands Nursing Home in Derry, Listowel, have passed away.
The latest deaths come amid claims that health officials acted “too late” to take control of the nursing home, which was found to be a "centre in chaos" by inspectors.
Last week, on foot of a court order, the HSE took over the nursing home after HIQA inspectors found elderly residents with positive Covid-19 tests mingling with other vulnerable residents.
The court was told by deputy chief inspector of HIQA, Susan Cliff, that residents at Oaklands had been wandering unsupervised and those with 'classic' Covid-19 symptoms were not being monitored.
Relatives now want to know why HIQA and the HSE didn’t move sooner.
The nursing home had been the subject of repeated investigations in the months before its registration certificate was finally cancelled last week.
“Action was taken too little and too late,” Gerry Kennedy told the. His 77-year-old brother Sean died of Covid-19 on Friday, November 13, at the home.
“If the Food Safety Authority found a restaurant was not compliant with various food regulations, it would go in and close it down immediately.”
He said the first he knew there were compliance issues at the home was when he found out from media reports the HSE has taken the home over just days after his brother died.
“To hear that the HSE had gone in and to hear about the reasons why was devastating for all the family,” said Gerry, who first spoke about his brother’s case on RTE Radio 1’s.
“The people who worked there did the best they could. Any time I was there or any time his wife was there the place was clean, bright, and airy, and people were being looked after.
“Nobody from the HSE, or HIQA bothered to let his wife of 54 years or any of his five children know before that story broke that this was what was going on behind the scenes. And this added to their great distress.”
Local Sinn Fein TD Pa Daly said he believed current regulations covering nursing homes were “not fit for purpose”.
The HSE provided “high-level support” to Oaklands nursing home following what was described as “a significant outbreak of Covid-19”.
The agency’s role was to “provide clinical governance” for a period.
Unannounced inspections of the home in the summer found breaches of infection control regulations and there were concerns that nobody was actually in charge of the home.
A process was then initiated, which included repeated inspections and warnings to the home.
Health watchdog HIQA finally obtained an order at Kerry District Court cancelling Bolden (Nursing) Ltd’s registration last week.
This was done, the watchdog said, “in the interests of the health, safety and quality of life of the residents”.
The HSE, which is now running the home, was keen to stress that “any issue related to the registration of a centre is a matter between the individual provider and HIQA”.
HIQA last night declined to comment on remarks made by relatives of residents of Oaklands Nursing home in Derry, Listowel.