Virus hits seniors’ homes

The Highlands House in Vredehoek, Cape Town. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

Two Vredehoek old age homes have been hard hit by the coronavirus.

Highlands House confirmed that 32 staff members and 13 residents have tested positive for Covid-19 while two people have died at Nazareth House.

Spokesperson for Highlands House, Mathilde Myburgh, said one person who was positive had passed away and another one was hospitalised last week.

She said they had immediately put a Covid-19 response strategy in place after receiving the results of the woman who had died.

“On receiving the first positive result, we sent home any staff who may have had contact with her. On Sunday, May 3, we isolated the relevant floor of the site and allowed Pathcare access to test 31 people, which included staff and residents,” she said.

However, they didn’t have sufficient test kits available and the home gave Ampath access to the site to test all residents and staff.

A total number of 483 tests were done.

“All residents with positive results were isolated on-site upon confirmation of their results. They are receiving all services in their rooms and do not leave their rooms,” she said.

She said nursing staff and a team of dedicated doctors were monitoring them.

“Our staff members with positive results are isolating at home and have reported to the relevant health authorities for monitoring. A senior nursing sister at Highlands House is also in regular contact with them to check on their overall well-being,” she said.

Ms Myburgh said staff attending to Covid-19 positive residents have been provided with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

She said their Covid-19 response team is led by Dr Leon Geffen who is a well-respected GP among their staff, residents and their families.

“A dedicated team of doctors will continue to monitor our Covid-19 patients and be available to consult with any of our residents, including medical needs outside of Covid-19,” she said.

Meanwhile, Nazareth House in Vredehoek has reported two deaths due to Covid-19.

One resident was in their dementia care unit, The Villa, and the other was in a separate facility. Both were terminally ill and had tested positive for the virus.

In a statement released on their social media pages, the home said upon hearing the news, management immediately stepped into action by restricting the movement of all residents and staff within the facility to enable a full deep clean and sanitisation of the facility.

They said all staff who were in contact with the deceased residents were tested immediately and placed into quarantine. “Of the remaining 23 residents at The Villa, three tested positive and were placed into an isolation wing at the facility,” they said.

A third resident in their isolation wing had passed away, but the home did not elaborate on the cause of death.

On Monday May 18, the Western Cape had 9 927 cases of Covid-19 with over 3 731 recoveries. The death toll had increased to 165.

In a press release on Sunday, May 17, Premier Alan Winde said while many will recover without complications, the impact of Covid-19 must not be underestimated, especially on the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.

He said the infection curve in the Western Cape is moving fast, and we are seeing higher rates of community transmission.

“Our data also shows us that the overwhelming majority of Covid-19 positive people who have died in the province have had one or more co-morbidities. It is therefore imperative that vulnerable residents take extra precautions- by staying home as much as possible to reduce the risk of infection,” he said.