A private nursing home in Co Limerick is managing a severe outbreak of COVID-19 after eight off its residents died over the past two weeks after all eight had tested positive for the virus after an outbreak was declared shortly before Christmas.
Pat Kennedy, CEO Windmill Healthcare, which operates Killeline Care Centre, Newcastle West, said: “Unfortunately, and sadly, we must confirm that we have 8 COVID-19 related deaths. This has been very upsetting for everyone, especially their loved ones, we would like to extend our deepest sympathies to all their families and extended friends.”
Management are “scheduling for a vaccine roll out on the 18th January, and this cannot come quick enough” but “it’s vital for it to be sooner if possible,” Mr Kennedy said.
The outbreak, declared three weeks ago, escalated over the past fortnight, as management continued to actively manage the situation with support for the HSE.
The nursing home has close to 100 staff members caring for a maximum 63 residents.
Reliable sources said “the majority” of staff and 63 residents tested positive for the virus.
Some staff remain in self isolation while others have isolated and returned to work.
As of today there were 12 active COVID cases among residents, however the number of confirmed cases among staff was not disclosed.
“Windmill Healthcare can confirm that we are managing a Covid outbreak in Killeline Care Centre, Newcastle West. As part of our fortnightly staff serial testing, we had been advised that a number of staff had tested positive for Covid-19 prior to the Christmas period,” said Mr Kennedy.
“We are fortunate that our senior management team at Windmill Healthcare are clinicians, with vast experience. Working alongside the management team at Killeline Care Centre, they immediately enacted our contingency plan and put all infection prevention and control measures in place.”
“We have been liaising daily with the COVID-19 Outbreak Control Team within the HSE and local GP’s. Working together we are ensuring a collective approach and have been monitoring the situation daily to contain and control the outbreak to protect our residents and our staff.”
Windmill operates six nursing homes and two retirement villages across Limerick, North Cork, Kerry, Galway and Offaly.
“Being a part of a larger group means that we have extra resources behind us, and we have been fortunate to call on our complement of staff from across the country, as well as HSE and agency staff. The support we have received from the COVID-19 Outbreak Control Team, our local GP’s and our Staff has been a massive help throughout this enduring time,” Mr Kennedy said.
He added, “with the incidence rate of Covid-19 in Limerick currently so high, particularly in West Limerick, it is a constant battle for all Nursing Homes to keep COVID-19 at bay, however, when it does penetrate, it shows how cruel it can be to our most vulnerable.”
“The majority of our staff have now tested positive for COVID-19, as we are now 3 weeks into this outbreak, a high number of these staff are now recovered and back to work.”
“The past three weeks has been an escalating scenario daily, but recent COVID-19 swabbing test result have indicated that the outbreak has now stabilized, and we expect that we will endure another difficult week before the cycle is complete.”
Meanwhile, a HSE-run community hospital for the elderly, also located in Newcastle West, has managed to effectively wipeout an outbreak of covid-19 of an entire ward.
The outbreak, at St Ita’s Community Hospital, was declared in the last week of November, when 25 patients on a 27-bed ward tested positive for the virus, informed sources said.
There were no notified cases at the hospital this Monday, reliable sources confirmed.
When asked for comment, a HSE Mid West Community Healthcare spokesman said it “does not comment on individual cases or individual activations, in the interests of confidentiality for individuals concerned”.
“The HSE’s Department of Public Health responds to notified cases or outbreaks of Covid-19. The Department of Public Health undertakes a risk assessment of the situation, appropriate investigations are carried out and control measures put in place if required,” he added.
Windmill spokeswoman’s response: “No other confirmed cases across any of our centres across the country.”