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Earlier this week, investigations began at Carinity Fairfield Grange after a staff member raised the alarm over five mysterious deaths at the facility.
Three nurses were sacked and a doctor reported to the Queensland Health Ombudsman over the allegations
More details have been revealed about a number of the lives that were lost due to poor practice at the Townsville facility.
One victim was Anthony John Boniface. “Jack” Boniface was 92 when he died on November 1st, and was one of the oldest residents at the facility.
His nurse was one of the three that were sacked.
Charlotte “Lottie” Paluszak was living with dementia, she was described as “always happy, laughing, putting a smile on [the staff’s] faces”.
According to her family, Lottie was otherwise healthy before she died suddenly in November. Her nurse, who was also sacked, delivered the resident a lethal dose of morphine and midazolam.
Both deaths were reported via calls to Crime Stoppers.
Now, a nurse has come forward and described the issues she saw during her her time at the facility.
Sharon Duthie told The Australian that she witnessed unsafe practices, cost-cutting and chronic understaffing during her time at the facility in late 2016.
She says the care was “all based on making profit while neglecting residents”.
“Unfortunately, my worst fears have been realised. It is the weirdest place I’ve ever worked for, and it was dangerous.”
“Management would remove anyone that dared to question them. There was always fear, and people who spoke up were sacked.”
“If any of us tried to raise concerns, they would either find a way to fire us or make life difficult for us. The other registered nurses cared but were all worn out and stressed,’’ she said.
“I knew of staff who were staying on to work there despite their better judgment because they were so short-staffed, and they were concerned that if they left, Carinity would hire any (nurses) they could get their hands on and focus on ones who wouldn’t stand up for the residents.”
“I couldn’t believe this was happening in Townsville. Aged care is always short-staffed and there are cost-cutting operations in play in all aged-care facilities but what I witnessed at Carinity was far worse.”
“I tried to find someone to speak to about my concerns about safety but no one wanted to listen. I ended up taking a month off for medical reasons. It was the only way I could get time off while I really thought about whether I wanted to be working for an organisation like this”
Since Ms Duthie’s accusations were made, Carinity have released a statement explained that she only worked at the nursing home for only six shifts.
In their statement, they say Ms Duthie praised Fairfield Grange in her resignation letter.
“I really enjoyed my time at Carinity, it is a beautiful place to work and I really felt we had a great team of nurses who cared, were empathetic but also excellent well trained nurses. I will miss working with them,” the company Ms Duthie’s letter.
During the initial reports, Carinity CEO, Jon Campbell, explained that they took immediate action when the matter was brought to them.
“As soon as we became aware of the breach of procedure on 21 November, the staff concerned were removed from the workplace and the matter was reported to the relevant authorities,” he said in a statement.
Investigation are underway, involving the police, the coroner and health regulators.
On Thursday, it was announced that Carinity appointed a nurse advisor to look at ways to improve its Townsville facility and will report their feedback to the CEO.
The nurse advisor will be stationed at Fairfield Grange for two months.
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