The first confirmed cases of Covid-19 at retirement and nursing homes in Argentina sparked concern this week, with shocking scenes of elderly citizens being hospitalised beamed across the nation’s TV screens and websites.
On Thursday, the Buenos Aires City government said that following the run of confirmed cases at nursing homes it would carry out an audit of the 478 retirement homes in the capital. At least 25,000 senior citizens are housed at such locations and the
The City government has tasked 80 inspectors from the Heath portfolio to carry out inspections. "We calculate that it will take us three or four days to inspect them all," a City government source told Perfil journalist Ezequiel Spillman.
Many geriátricos are believed to be suffering from a lack of personnel (both medical and general). City Health Minister Fernán Quirós said this week that the owners of such establishments had a "responsibility" to residents.
The audit is a direct response to a number of high-profile cases in the capital at at least three retirement homes.
One nursing home in Belgrano was evacuated on Tuesday night, as angry relatives complained about the conditions and care offered to their relatives by the home’s owners since an infection had been confirmed.
Aid chaotic scenes, officials from the SAME emergency services "took control" of the residence. "There is no authority here and we are going to take the authority. We are going to check all the grandparents, all the staff and we are going to transfer whoever needs it," said SAME director Alberto Crescenti said.
City government sources told Perfil that they conducted inspection procedures to see if closure of the Apart Incas care home was necessary and that police were evaluating whether criminal proceedings would be opened. At least 19 individuals, including staff members, have tested positive for Covid-19.
The director of the home, Luis Megyes, was angrily criticised by relatives in televised scenes. Many family members had gathered at the doors to accompany their relatives during the transfer and they didn't hold back.
"There has been no-one here for 72 hours. No staff, no doctors. You're a liar. You have six clinics, put your face on," one unnamed man angrily shouted.
A lady shouted at him, "You've ruined us. We left the old people in your hands, Luis.”
Megyes responded that the retirement home had been unable to get sufficient medical support for the occupants.
"The problem was that we could not isolate every patient in a room, and we had been infected by the nurses and had no staff. We were desperate,” he said.
The following day, one fatality and eight Covid-19 cases were confirmed at the Instituto Geriátrico San Lucas in Parque Avellaneda. The emergency services subsequently transferred at least 45 individuals who lived there to clinics and hospitals, though not all are believed to be infected.
On Thursday, it was confirmed that 35 senior citizens and four employees at the Flores-based Beit Sión nursing home had tested positive for the coronavirus. Most, however, did not present symptoms of the disease, local outlets reported. Nevertheless, all 39 were hospitalised, transferred to various locations across the city for medical care.
The care home, located at 458 Condarco, also suffered a fatality on April 7, after a male resident died of Covid-19.
Fears of the impact of the coronavirus on the elderly are well-founded, with the virus hitting those aged over 70 particularly hard. The World Health Organization said Thursday that more than 50 percent of the 110,000 deaths from Covid-19 in Europe to date were individuals who lived in nursing homes.