Inquiry into control of outbreak urged


NAZARETH HOUSE:A FULL inquiry should be carried out into the nursing home at the centre of a flu outbreak in Donegal, a local representative has said.

Local Buncrana town councillor Peter McLaughlin raised concerns that at least one resident was admitted to Nazareth House, in Fahan, near Buncrana, the day before the HSE was notified that six people had died at the home.

The six elderly people, in their 80s and 90s, died over a 10-day period from March 22nd to April 1st.

Mr McLaughlin told The Irish Times yesterday that Nazareth House had a very good reputation and people travelled long distances to get a place in it. But he questioned the handling of the outbreak.

He said it seemed strange that the home was only “quarantined” on Sunday after the six deaths had occurred.

At least one person was admitted on Saturday, the day before it closed, he said. “That should not have happened.”

He also asked why members of the public were allowed into the chapel adjoining the home for a funeral Mass on the morning the home was shut down to new admissions and visitors.

“There are questions to be answered,” he said. “How long did they know, what did they know and how many people did they let in after the outbreak?”

He called for an inquiry to be carried out once current residents at the home are treated and recover from the illness.

“Maybe some lessons can be learned from this and it will not happen again,” he said.

Donegal North East Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh also said there should be a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the six deaths. He said many questions needed answers. Among these was the timeframe in reporting the deaths to the HSE.

The home was built in 1981, and is owned by the Sisters of Nazareth religious congregation, whose convent adjoins the home. It has a capacity for 48 residents and provides long-term and respite care, palliative care and convalescence care to residents primarily over 65 years old.

The Health Information and Quality Authority inspected the home in 2010 and 2011. In its first report, in May 2010, the authority found there were 20 improvements required. Concerns were raised about the potential for cross-infection at the home.

But by June 2011, when the follow-up inspections were carried out, the issue of cross-infection had been fully addressed and “there were no infection control risks”, the second report said.

The inspectors praised the home and said there was evidence “of good practice” and a commitment to improving the quality of the service that residents received.