Carers at Epping Gardens break silence over deadly outbreak
A group of aged care workers who came under fire for holding an “unauthorised” baby shower at their facility days before a deadly outbreak occurred have finally broken their silence.
Heritage Care, owner of aged cared facility Epping Gardens, referred six of its carers to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency over the baby shower on July 16, claiming it was unauthorised.
The first case of COVID-19 at the facility was found days later.
The cluster ended up taking the lives of 38 residents.
But the carers claim management knew of the baby shower as well as a birthday celebration that took place at the facility two days later.
Appearing on A Current Affair, the carers made a series of allegations saying a COVID-19 outbreak was inevitable.
Only two nurses were on duty at Epping Gardens when the Australian Defence Force took over in late July.
Speaking to ACA reporter Christine Ahern, the carers who chose to stay anonymous painted a picture of confusion, chaos and a lack of infection control before the virus took place.
And most seriously, one carer, Renee* alleges that she was required to continue working as she waited for the results of a COVID-19 test.
"They say, 'you are waiting, you can work'," Renee* said.
Jade* another carer was also told she needed to continue working after coming into contact with a COVID-positive resident.
"They said to me, 'do you have symptoms?' And I said, 'no, I don't have symptoms.' And they said, 'don't worry, you have to go upstairs, you have to work today'."
Jade* refused to work and tested positive the following day.
She hasn't been back to Epping Gardens since.
Renee* was also told to stop wearing a mask because it was scaring the residents.
"(The manager said) 'just throw your mask in the bin… you're scaring the consumers and they think we're sick'," Renee* said.
Heritage Care CEO Greg Reeve declined to comment when contacted by A Current Affair.
*Carers names have been changed.
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