Disinfection of a nursing home / S. Alcaide
The coronavirus crisis is turning geriatric residences in Catalonia into hell, where the dead number in the hundreds. For this reason, the Coordinadora Residencias 5 + 1, a platform for relatives of users of residences for older people, has launched a complaint to the prosecution of the Superior Court of Justice of Catalonia (TSJC). In the complaint that will be effective the next business day, that is, next Tuesday, April 14, the Generalidad is accused of incompetence with death, according to the Coordinadora’s spokesperson, María José Carcelén, as explained to EL TRIANGLE. The spokeswoman said that “we filed the complaint against the Health department and the department of Social Affairs because they knew perfectly what was happening in the nursing homes and did not want to do anything. Their incompetence is our dead”.
For Carcelén, the lack of coordination, of clear guidelines and the inaction of the Catalan government has caused the crisis of the coronavirus in nursing homes to increase, by stating that “the person directly responsible is the Generalidad, which has not taken the correct measures when it saw what happened in the nursing homes of Madrid. In all the residences of Catalonia the dead can be counted by the dozens”. The Generalidad, which has recognized the poor management in the residences, continues but puts sticks on the wheels and is acting deficiently as it appears from the document that is presented to the TSJC prosecutor by the 5 + 1 Coordinadora. Carcelén says that “in the nursing homes there is a doctor 20 hours a week and a geriatric nurse at night for 20 or 30 grandparents, it is impossible to detect or refer sick grandparents, that is why the cases are piling up”.
The coordinator of the platform affirms that “there is a decision not to take grandparents who are in nursing homes to hospitals, but they also do not give them medical attention because a residence is not a social health facility, they do not have a 24-hour doctor or nurse. Nor open an IV, or put a serum. If you don’t have the material or the personnel, you’re condemning these people to die. If you leave a grandfather with Covid-19, with multiple pathologies in a residence without a doctor … it’s a death sentence”. The Catalan Government assures that 90% of the dead were over 60 years old, and that 67% were over 80 years old, a figure that is questioned by the 5 + 1 Coordinator who defend that “they are not doing the tests to find out who has the virus, nor the autopsies to know that they have died. The figures do not add up … and the tests do not arrive”.
The grandparents’ nur4sing homes have become the focus of the disease and of the criticism against the Generalidad for the policy of guidelines with which they try, without success, to contain the advance of the coronavirus. The slogan that lit the wick was the government’s decision at the end of March to do an age screening, which recommended not to bring to the ICU or intubate patients over 80 years of age, patients of little benefit as they called them. Days later it backed away and made a postscript in which it left the triage for a clinical issue in the hands of the doctors. Without making too much noise, it announced another guideline, that family members could take the elderly home, which according to Carcelén “is completely incomprehensible”, adding that “they recommended taking grandparents home without even doing the test. How do you think that do you have to take an older person home when there are 10 dead and 40 infected in their nursing home? Do they not know what the incubation period is? This is putting pressure on families and taking the dead off, so that they die at home, but not at the residence”.
The last measure announced by the councilor of Health, Alba Vergés, who made us see a bit of hope, was the transfer of the grandparents to centers or hotels adapted for medical purposes, but which for the moment is still waiting, “has been the drop that has filled the glass”, says Carcelén, adding that “the City Council made several centers available to the government to be able to be used for medical purposes and accommodate grandparents who needed it, but Vergés said that these wards were not suitable for grandparents. Perhaps they think it is better let them die at the residence. They are letting them die, that’s why we denounce them”. This inaction of the Catalan government is what has caused the 5 + 1 Residences Coordinator to accuse the Generalidad of doing politics with the victims; “let them do the politics they want but not at the expense of the lives of the people”.
Death haunts the residences
The story of J.R.V, who has seen how his 89-year-old mother, A.V., died in the residence’s bed is one of many of this pandemic and how it is affecting the centers for the elderly. “My mother lived in the Can Serra residence in Sant Esteve Sesrovires, and even with such an age she was a valid person. When the residence closed to family visits, due to the issue of Covid-19, we knew about her through calls on the phone until they offered us the possibility of making a videoconference because they told us that she was ill”, explains JR, adding that” we never got to speak, because they told us that she was isolated and hospitalized in a room, and we began to suspect something. After much insisting and even threatening them with a complaint, they made a video of my mother in which we already saw that she was suffering a lot”.
J.R.V. denounces that her mother, a woman valid until the moment of contracting the disease, died in the isolated room of the residence since “a residence is not a hospital and they are not prepared. My mother did not even have a bottle of serum to avoid dehydration in an alleged room adapted for medical purposes”. The woman was cremated four days later and the result of the coronavirus test was unclear, since according to JRV, “they told us that she had been tested but they never gave us the results, the doctor thought she had died of coronavirus, but died by neglect”.