Coronavirus Hits Nursing Home in Split, A ‘Worst Case Scenario’

Total Croatia News

April 8, 2020 —  The coronavirus reached a nursing home with over 300 residents in Split, realizing epidemiologists’ worst-case scenario: a large group of at-risk patients exposed to the virus. 

All 10 of the residents with confirmed infections are now on respirators, with about 50 others who shared a floor with the infected sent to a hospital. Two staff members later tested positive for the virus.

Health Minister Vili Beroš and Minister for Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy Vesna Bedekovic traveled to Split to visit the municipally operated Center for the Elderly and Infirm, where the breakout occurred according to Jutarnji List.

The minister said epidemiological protocols will take over. The area where the coronavirus appeared will be disinfected and all necessary measures will be taken to allow the residents to return. 

“Unfortunately, what happened in Split was what we least wanted, because older groups of our fellow citizens are the most vulnerable,” Beroš said.

Jutarnji reports the virus emerged on the second floor of the nursing home, which houses 50 residents with limited mobility. Ten residents reportedly tested positive and 16 have a fever.

“The doctor who is there every day, a few days ago, noticed a few people with fever on the second floor,” said Ivan Škaričić, director of the center who also overseas two others.

Škaričić says they “took all measures” and that “no one from the home could come in and out.” Asked how residents were infected, he said the assumption was that the virus entered the via a resident went to the hospital an examination, or through a staff member.

“I cannot speculate on this,” Skaricic said. “We were really shocked.”

When asked by a Nova TV reporter why he had not reacted quicker given that residents had a fever for the last ten days, Škaričić replied that he was not a doctor. “They were in contact with a doctor and I would not speculate on that.”

Škaričić’s carries a controversial past as a poster child for the patronage jobs system allegedly endemic around the country. The archeology and history graduate, and card-carrying Croatian Democratic Union member, was gifted a well-compensated job overseeing three homes for the elderly despite zero qualifications.

When asked about his hiring in 2013, Škaričić infamously told Slobodna Dalmacija, “Well, I have to work somewhere, too. I’ve been out of a job long enough.”

The sudden influx of patients from Škaričić’s home will strain Split’s healthcare system.

“We’ll have to empty an entire hospital ward,” said Dr. Julije Meštrović, Director of KBC Split.

The infections came a day after Krunoslav Capak, director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, said at a press conference, “The most important thing is that we have not penetrated nursing homes so far.”

Epidemiologists feared an outbreak in a nursing home, where nearly all patients are high-risk.

“It is a matter of semi-mobile people, so it is very likely that the disease was introduced by one of the staff, but of course it still has to be checked,” Čapak said. “Specifically, visits have been banned for some time. So far, there are 10 positives, a few still have symptoms.”

Once the epidemiological survey is completed and after all residents have been tested, those who are negative will return to the home, which will be disinfected in the meantime.

“At this point, the most important thing is that the wardens are cared for, that they will receive the best care and that everything will be done according to the established procedures to stop the spread of the infection,” the Minister of Demography, Family, Youth and Social Welfare Vesna Bedekovic told Jutarnji List. “Did the patients show symptoms earlier, could they have reacted sooner – I have no information about this. […] Now the safety of the residents is paramount.”


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