Horrible news this morning: more than half the residents of a wing of the Rotterdam nursing home De Leeuwenhoek have died, likely from coronavirus, NRC reports. The affected wing houses patients who suffer from dementia.
At the moment, it has been confirmed by the nursing home that “a large number of residents have since died.” Sources speaking to NRC around the nursing home say that in the affected wing, fifteen people have died so far. However, the number will likely increase over the coming days. In other wings of the nursing home, there are also reports of illness and death linked to coronavirus, but these wings are not yet as badly affected as the dementia wing.
Staff and patients of the nursing home have now been tested for coronavirus, with a quarter of the 72 current patients testing positive, in addition to a quarter of the staff.
Attempts to isolate patients failed
It is unclear why this wing has been so badly affected, and despite appearances, it is also unclear if the nursing home has actually done anything wrong in its reaction to the virus. There are several factors at play, including the fact that dementia patients have different needs from other inhabitants of nursing homes. This has decreased the effectiveness of measures like isolation- residents with dementia tend to wander around, which led to those who were infected being in contact with those who were not.
Staff were advised not to wear face masks initially
In a statement to NRC, the manager of the nursing home confirmed this. “Unfortunately, we have not been able to prevent infected residents from leaving their rooms, which meant that there was no longer a safe situation [with regard to] controlling the outbreak.” Furthermore, staff were initially advised not to wear face masks, because this would confuse and frighten the residents. It was also difficult for staff to explain coronavirus to residents.
Nursing home was not prepared, relatives say
However, relatives of patients at the nursing home have claimed that there were areas where the nursing home was at fault. They spoke anonymously to NRC and stated that the management of the nursing home was not prepared for a possible coronavirus outbreak, and that additionally, the nursing home had done too little to prevent residents getting infected and infecting others.
Not enough face masks for staff
There were not enough face masks for the staff, meaning that they would have to wear the same one for an extended period of time, often while crossing from an infected area of the nursing home to an uninfected one. Furthermore, the same staff members worked in both infected and uninfected areas, relatives and sources inside the nursing home claim.
No “late response” or “too little action,” nursing home claims
The management of the nursing home, on the other hand, claims that staff have sufficient protective equipment and are not allowed to work in other wings of the nursing home. They also state unequivocally that the nursing home “acted no differently than at other locations or at other care institutions” and followed RIVM and GGD guidelines. They deny that there was a “late response” or “too little action” taken.
General concerns about nursing homes in the Netherlands
There is a huge amount of concern in the Netherlands about the situation in nursing homes generally. They have been closed to visitors from the public since 20 March. There are widespread suspicions that nursing homes are underreporting coronavirus infections and deaths, so it is unclear at the moment whether De Leeuwenhoek is an exception or the rule.
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