HSE takes over running of Kerry nursing home in ‘chaos’

Hiqa secures court order over Listowel home during Covid-19 outbreak

Ambulance outside Oaklands Nursing Home in Listowel, Co Kerry,  on  November 4th. Photograph courtesy of  Kerry’s Eye

Ambulance outside Oaklands Nursing Home in Listowel, Co Kerry, on November 4th. Photograph courtesy of Kerry’s Eye

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The Health Service Executive (HSE) has taken over the running of a north Kerry nursing home, after the facility was found to be in “chaos” during a recent outbreak of Covid-19.

The HSE took over the management of Oaklands Nursing Home, Derry, Listowel, on Thursday evening on foot of a court order sought by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) due to serious infection control concerns.

Nineteen residents and staff in the Co Kerry nursing home had tested positive for Covid-19 at the start of this month. When a Hiqa team entered the facility on November 4th following the outbreak, they “found a centre in chaos”, Susan Cliff, Hiqa’s deputy chief inspector of social services, told Listowel District Court.

There were no empty rooms brought together for patients who might test positive for Covid-19 and all staff were in contact with all patients. Domestic cleaning products were still in use, and not those for Covid-19.

Residents were “wandering unsupervised” through the nursing home, and those who had tested positive for Covid-19 were mingling with residents who did not have Covid-19, she said. “Alarm bells should have been firing off in this centre and it didn’t happen,” Ms Cliffe told the court.

There was no proper supervision of the care of residents, and no restrictions or checks on people entering the nursing home, the regulator said.

Judge David Waters said given the poor clinical governance and infection control measures, he was satisfied there was a “serious risk to life and welfare of persons in the centre”. The nursing home, which can house 51 residents, had been run by a private provider, Bolden (Nursing) Ltd.

Bolden Ltd, was not represented in court. However, there was consent to the application by Hiqa to have the nursing home’s registration cancelled.

There had been “a high level of concern” already this year about the home which had undergone seven inspections, the court heard.

Meanwhile, officials from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) have expressed concern that early progress in reducing the number of Covid-19 cases has levelled off.

Speaking on Thursday, the State’s chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the country had effectively “lost a week” of lockdown, as recent figures showed the number of new cases was no longer falling.

Dr Holohan said he was concerned people were ignoring directions to work from home unless necessary, with anecdotal evidence showing car parks and office canteens were “full”, he said.

Prof Philip Nolan, chair of Nphet’s modelling group, said the fact progress suppressing the disease had stalled was cause for “concern and disappointment”.

The R-number, which is the reproductive rate of the disease, had increased in the last week from 0.6, to between 0.7 and 0.9, which was a “significant cause for concern,” Prof Nolan said.

Senior Government figures also expressed concern at the daily Covid-19 figures and believe they are not falling at a satisfactory rate.

“This is going in the wrong direction,” one source said on Thursday night. Another Cabinet figure said that any prospect of moving to a Level 2 at some stage in December was becoming less and likely and that the current plan was to move to “Level 3 plus” provided the figures did not deteriorate.

The Cabinet will wait to see what the trend is next week before making a final decision about what happens on December 1st when the six-week lockdown is due to come to an end.

There is growing scepticism among some Ministers about the effectiveness of Level 5 restrictions given that recent progress has stalled. There will be a push from some Ministers next week at Cabinet to look beyond the daily figures and take into account the level of hospitalisations and intensive care admissions.

Ultimately though, they believe that deteriorating progress on the daily figures will have a knock-on effect on what type of reopening they can approve for December and Christmas.

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