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Daughter of man who died from Covid in home slams health minister over broken promise

'We met Stephen Donnelly fifteen months ago and he promised he would come back to us with some answers in a few weeks and that is the last we heard from him'

Emma Duffy and her dad Oliver on her wedding day

Gerry Hand

The devastated daughter of a man who died from Covid in one of the country’s nursing homes worst hit by the virus has accused health minister Stephen Donnelly of breaking his promise to investigate what happened.

And she claimed the minister is forcing families to do the states job and investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 24 patients at the facility.

And she has claimed that when her father fell ill with a kidney infection in the home no doctor attended him until three days later.

Emma Duffy from, Dundalk, county Louth, said ‘My dad Oliver suffered from Parkinsons and Alzheimers and was admitted to Dealgan nursing home on January 27th 2020, we felt he needed full time care and that this was the best course of action for everyone.

‘Through no fault of ours it all turned out horribly wrong though, he contracted Covid on April 17th and died on May 2nd that same year.

In total more than 20 residents of the home died from the virus.

Emma's late father Oliver

Emma slammed, ‘We met Stephen Donnelly fifteen months ago and he promised us faithfully he would come back to us with some answers in a few weeks and that sadly is the last we have heard from him.

‘The families of those who died have come together as a group and we have all turned into investigative reporters to try and find out what went on in there, the state has been of no help they just want us to go away.

‘Well we are not going away, we can’t go away until we get proper answers we owe t to the dead to have a proper Commission Of Inquiry into what happened and we won’t be fobbed off with anything less.

‘The nursing home is only concerned with salvaging its reputation and not with providing answers for us,

‘Two weeks after my dad died they told us that 60% of their staff had caught the virus and were off work, why the hell didn’t they tell us immediately when it happened and we would have taken Dad out of there.

‘We have since found out that dad got a kidney infection, now you know how painful that is, and as it was at the start of the weekend no doctor was called for him until the Monday.

‘It has also emerged through our efforts at looking into it that due to Covid there were days when there was just one nurse on duty to look after eighty patients, that’s an impossible task and it is simply unsafe.’

When details of the problem emerged the Royal College Of Surgeons hospital group took over the management of the nursing home in Dundalkon April 17th2020 to ensure safe staffing levels and Emma sys they were shocked at what they discovered,

‘We have been reliably informed that when they got in there they found patients in need of medication, badly dehydrated and needing to be fed, what we haven’t been told is what prompted them to take over in the first place.’

Relatives of those who died have begun counselling to deal with their bereavements and Emma says they even had to force the states hand on that.

‘We had to push Paul Reid the HSE chief on it to get counselling and it has only started this week, I just had my first session a few days ago, that is two years after my father died.

‘You know I still have not been able to grieve properly as all my energy has been focussed on finding out what happened.

‘Stephen Donnelly has broken his promise and let us down, he has left us having to do the states job for it and that is plain wrong, we need a full Commission Of Inquiry but he seems reluctant to deliver it.’

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