HSE Chief to brief Kerry TDs on Oaklands home fallout

The Chief Officer of the HSE Michael Fitzgerald is to brief Kerry TDs and senators on the fallout of the Oaklands Nursing Home closure as the health authority prepares to find alternative accommodation for the residents elsewhere.

he meeting comes as families of several residents voice disappointment with provisional arrangements for their loved ones; at least two of whom are being asked to move over 40 miles away to a centre in the Newcastle West area.

The HSE said it intends placing all residents in alternative homes by Christmas. Twenty-three residents of the COVID-struck home continue to battle the effects of the virus, with one woman transferred to University Hospital Kerry amid deep concern for her welfare over the weekend. Eight residents of the home have died after contracting the disease since the outbreak in late October, leading to serious questions from their heartbroken families over the lack of protection – despite watchdog HIQA flagging a variety of concerns over infection control at the centre.

Listowel District Court cancelled the registration of the owners and appointed the HSE to run the home in court orders sought by the regulator two weeks ago. HIQA had outlined its serious concerns to the Court over what it described as a chaotic centre, where COVID-positive residents were observed mixing with then non-COVID residents during an inspection on November 4.

Families are now calling on the HSE to preserve records and CCTV footage from inside Oaklands, pending a potential future enquiry into the tragic saga. HSE Chief Officer Michael Fitzgerald is expected to discuss the emerging new arrangements for residents with Kerry Oireachtas members on Thursday. These arrangements follow the HSE’s decision to shut Oaklands down over its concern as to its tenure.

“It is not sustainable for the HSE to continue as the temporary registered provider at this location,” the HSE stated last week. The HSE does not own this nursing home, and our role under the Health Act as a temporary provider is to make long-term arrangements for the residents in appropriate settings.

“Residents need to have certainty about their future care, and we cannot offer them that in a premises that we don’t own and where we don’t have security of tenure,” they added. The HSE said that no resident would be moved without ‘extensive consultation and support’.

Sinn Féin TD for Kerry Pa Daly said that a number of families have contacted him over their disappointment with the alternative arrangements suggested, and he called on the Government to provide a greater-capacity community hospital in Listowel to meet the demand for beds locally.

“A few are going to Newcastle West, one resident has got into Áras Mhuire in Listowel, and others have been offered places around the county. Families are disappointed, and it will be very hard on residents who won’t get visits as regularly after the restrictions are lifted. It’s not satisfactory,” Deputy Daly said.

He is calling for a probe to get to the nub of how the State’s regulatory oversight for the nursing home sector failed to protect the residents of Oaklands, despite HIQA flagging serious concerns over infection controls and social distancing there as early as June: “In the June 18 report, HIQA said they weren’t able to contact families due to COVID. That’s rubbish. All that was needed was to have picked up the phone. To simply say that residents, many of whom have dementia, seemed happy is not good enough. They needed to speak with families,” he said.

Independent.ie – News