Newmarch House death toll rises to 15: Aged Care Minister Colbeck says 'support is there'

Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck.
Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck.

Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck has hit back at criticism the government hasn't done enough to curb the COVID-10 outbreak at Newmarch House.

In a statement on Monday Mr Colbeck said the Government is determined to ensure a safe environment exists in aged care facilities.

Mr Colbeck's assurance that the government is taking steps to contain the spread of COVID-19 in aged care facilities followed news of another death at the western Sydney nursing home - part of Anglicare's Caddens Village near Penrith - bringing the toll to 15 on Monday afternoon.

Anglicare announced the death saying the person had no immediate family but was "part of our Anglicare family".

"We grieve for his death and we value that he was part of our Anglicare family while we cared for them," the operator said in a statement.

"We also appreciate government support in implementing the Family Support Program, which will enable registered nurses to communicate regularly to families about their loved ones."

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Mr Colbeck said the Goverment has also put "significant investments into unlimited workforce surge support" which includes providing and funding 10 nurses, 16 personal care workers, three physiotherapists and 15 GPs.

The surge staff will be available for any aged care facility where there is an outbreak.

"The 15 GPs are on a 24 hour roster including over the weekend as extra clinical care available for those residents who are COVID positive. These GPs can also provide a back-up services if a resident's usual GP cannot be contacted for non-COVID matters," said Mr Colbeck.

"Personal protection equipment (PPE) has, and is continuing to be provided, to ensure the safety of staff and residents."

"At Anglicare's request we have brought three senior managers into the facility from Dorothy Henderson Lodge who have recent experience of COVID-19 to assist them."

Mr Colbeck said he had helped facilitate access for several families following a conference call with local member Melissa McIntosh and concerned relatives last week, and that direct contact with families was "ongoing".

"We recognise families are very concerned about the ongoing situation at Newmarch House," he said.

"Additionally, Anglicare is actively engaging with five families who have expressed interest in removing residents."

Mr Colbeck said the circumstances at Newmarch were being reviewed by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and the public health unit of the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District.

"The NSW Clinical Excellence Commission has also investigated procedures at Newmarch. Its findings have not yet been made public," he added.

A daily testing regime has been established for staff at the nursing home, to manage what is Australia's second deadliest outbreak after the cruise ship Ruby Princess.

Since April 11 some 26 staff and 37 of the 100-odd residents have tested positive to the virus.

This story Minister hits back after Newmarch House toll rises to 15 first appeared on The Canberra Times.