The death of fifteen residents in the Greek Orthodox Archdioceses’ St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Victoria from coronavirus has tainted the name of other Archdiocese centres around Australia.
Confusion and anxiety reigned for Melbourne families of residents of St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in the early stages of the crisis as many were told to contact St Basil’s in South Australia for information on their loved ones.
Michelle Church, the Chief Executive of St Basil’s South Australia talking to Neos Kosmos suspects that having the same name has a lot to do with the confusion.
“We attempted to facilitate calls where we could to connect enquiries with the right people. We understand how it could be confusing because we share the same name and wanted to help connect people who are clearly distressed.
“We understand that people with loved ones in aged care would be concerned at the moment,” Ms Church said, adding that she felt for everyone; “the residents, families and staff at all aged care facilities.
“It’s a worrying time and this is the first time we have had a pandemic of this magnitude to deal with.”
Greek Orthodox Archdioceses’ aged care homes named after St Basil – known for his care of the poor and underprivileged – are tainted by St Basil’s in Melbourne dubious honour of being an epicentre of Victoria’s COVID-19 crisis.
Alleged poor management and safety procedures have resulted in the death of 12 residents and necessitated a Commonwealth Government take-over of the centre.
In an effort to distance St Basil’s in South Australia from the one in Victoria, Ms Church said that while the Archdiocese offers aged care services throughout Australia, “it does so through different entities in each state and territory”.
“Each entity is separately established and separately governed, although the Archdiocese has an overarching role to play in the aged care space, each state operates independently of the others.
“Having said this, we are all sister organisations and the pain felt by one is felt by all,” said Ms Church.
The Chief Executive underscored that St Basil’s in South Australia is “managed by an independent board and executive team.”
The Victorian Government and federal Labor are keen to emphasise that the private aged care system is the root cause for the crisis, partly due to overreliance on casual labour and cutting corners.
Ms Church points out St Basil’s SA is an “incorporated, government-funded, not for profit, aged care provider.”
On the question of whether St Basil’s SA has undertaken the appropriate hygiene and COVID19 protocols Ms Church was adamant.
“Of course! It is also important to remember we are in a different state of emergency and each State is governed by both federal and their own state governments’ protocols. For example, in South Australia, SA Health mandated early in the piece that any residents of aged care facilities who were diagnosed with COVID-19 would be immediately transferred to hospital. This was not initially the case in Victoria.”
Ms Church said that St Basil’s in SA continue to ensure that every person, whether they are staff, suppliers or family “must to wash their hands and have their temperature taken before completing a declaration of health.”
She also pointed to the concerted effort the facility is taking to engage with the community.
“We are in regular contact with our community about what’s going on and any initiatives we are implementing,” said Ms Church.
Ms Church emphasised that “staff have received refresher training on infection control on top of the regular training.”
The centre has sufficient stock of PPE and the Commonwealth government will “provide stock in the unfortunate event of a COVID case if required – as it would for all aged care providers,” added Ms Church.
Ms Church went on to say that “despite the toughest precautions, viral infections can quickly spread with devastating consequences.”
“We all need to understand that beating COVID is the responsibility of every individual to follow government guidelines, which include washing hands, maintaining social distance, wearing a mask if, or when it’s requested, and staying home and isolating if you have any symptoms of illness.”