'Pandemonium' As Dozens Of Elderly Residents Booted From Nursing Home
Elderly residents were turfed from their Gold Coast home after an aged care centre was abruptly closed at no notice.
Staff were forced to quickly evacuate about 70 residents from Earle Haven Retirement Village At Nerang on the Gold Coast on Thursday.
Patient records, drugs and even cleaning supplies were stripped from the aged-care facility and it was all over an apparent contractual issue.
Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Senator Richard Colbeck said the "outrageous" incident is currently being investigated with a "full suite" of departmental resources.
“It appears that this incident arose from a contractual dispute between the approved Aged Care provider and a sub-contractor who was providing administrative, nursing, catering and other support services," Colbeck said in a statement on Friday.
“It appears that the sub-contractor, without notice, withdrew all services and proceeded to remove equipment from site, leaving the facility unsuitable for residents to occupy.”
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles demanded a probe by federal regulators.
"There's no excuse for taking their patient records, no excuse for taking their pharmaceuticals, for taking their mop buckets, for taking the gloves that staff would use to help them toilet and shower," Miles said on Friday.
"The behaviour here, whoever is responsible, is just disgusting."
He said patient records vanished leaving paramedics and doctors scrambling to know how best to treat and care for residents.
"As I understand it, store room after store room was cleared of anything that could be considered valuable.
"Our health staff had to reconstruct health histories and medication requirements for the residents, in order to stabilise them and provide them with their healthcare needs."
Miles said police would be looking at whether any offences had been committed.
He said federal aged-care regulators must determine how a commercial dispute led to the abandonment of frail, elderly people.
"At the end of the day, they are charged with taking care of 70-odd vulnerable Queenslanders, they make a profit from caring for 70-odd vulnerable Queenslanders and whatever their internal disputes, there is no excuse for just walking out on them."
Miles revealed a triple 0 call on Thursday afternoon sparked the full-scale emergency response, with dozens of paramedics and Queensland Health staff brought in to deal with distressed residents, many suffering from dementia.
Dr Jeremy Wellwood from Gold Coast Health said he learned about 2pm about what was unfolding at the centre, and it quickly became clear patient safety was at risk.
"There was inadequate staff to care for the patients," he told reporters on Friday.
"It was our priority to make sure these elderly frail residents were safe and were adequately cared for. We're so grateful we found other locations for them. This was a massive undertaking to transfer this number of patients ..."
The Queensland Nurses Union has described scenes of "pandemonium", with some staff ordered to leave the facility as medical equipment was being removed.
The owner of the village, People Care, is embroiled in a dispute with a medical contractor, HelpStreet, trusted to operate the aged-care wing.
People Care says it decided to terminate its contract with HelpStreet. It said it gave the contractor until August 9 to vacate the property, but HelpStreet "decided to leave earlier".
HelpStreet said People Care failed to pay it for its services and that meant staff were told not to show up for work on Thursday.
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