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Infections at Newmarch House rise as families await answers

“The reasons for this are still being investigated and we are working closely with NSW Public Health Unit and an Infectious Diseases Specialist,” Anglicare said in a statement late on Thursday.

Mr Bowe said there were still questions that he wants answered by the government and Anglicare despite some improvement in communication with families.

“Communication is inconsistent. We don’t know if negative people can be taken out. If my mum was negative I’d want her out,” Mr Bowe said.

He said families still haven’t had conversations about whether or when their loved ones would be taken to hospital, or what the treatment plan is if they deteriorate.

Anthony Bowe , the son of Patricia Shea who tested positive to coronavirus, stands outside Anglicare Newmarch House.

Anthony Bowe , the son of Patricia Shea who tested positive to coronavirus, stands outside Anglicare Newmarch House. Credit:Edwina Pickles

“We’re still trying to get in contact with doctors to have a conversation and work out what our options are. That’s our next big push.”

Earlier in the day he was given the opportunity to visit his mother from a window outside her room, which he said was a “big relief”. He said he hoped his mum who tested positive two weeks ago will be the first resident to make it to the other end of the virus alive.

“Overall she looks good, she’s confident she’s through the bad bit, touch wood.”

Other families will be taking their concerns to the minister for aged care, Richard Colbeck, in a teleconference meeting on Thursday night.

The death of a 77-year-old male resident on Wednesday brought the total number of coronavirus fatalities linked to Newmarch House to 12.

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The aged care sector is calling on the federal government to further boost funding to facilities already struggling under “significant financial pressure” prior to the pandemic.

Sean Rooney, CEO of Leading Age Services Australia, said additional funding is needed to “continue the fight” against coronavirus as other parts of society return to a sense of normality.

“There has been significant financial pressure and stress across the sector for years,” Mr Rooney said. “The cost of high quality care has increased over time, whereas the subsidy provided by government has not kept pace.”

Mr Rooney said “millions” has been spent by the sector to enable communication between residents and families during the lockdown period, as well as on measures to prevent and contain the spread of coronavirus – including personal protective equipment and cleaning.

With social distancing measures being relaxed and an expectation that families will be able to visit their relatives again, Mr Rooney said the sector will need more support to ensure appropriate screening.

A comment was sought from the Australian Government Department of Health.

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