Miguel Jiménez had the body for a party. The president and general director of the group of nursing homes Bastón de Oro had just recovered from a convalescence due to covid-19 and before returning to Catalonia he wanted to say goodbye to the workers at his center in Móstoles with a good suckling pig. It happened on Tuesday of last week, after hard weeks in which funeral cars have collected dozens of residents who died from the pandemic in Las Camelias, this nursing home in the south of Madrid. After lunch, on the ground floor, they danced flamenco music with so much noise that some relatives who called to speak to their inmates asked, wondering what was happening. While the party was going on, the patients continued to be isolated by covid-19 on the second and third floors.
In the photos of that celebration you can see Jiménez and his employees. They hug, dance and drink wine around a table dominated by the roast suckling pig. The only person wearing a mask and gloves is the ambulance toilet, who is seen in a snapshot talking to Jiménez.
The scene contrasts with that shown by nursing homes during the health crisis. On social networks and in the visits of the media we have seen the caregivers covered with dressing gowns, masks, gloves and vinyl face screens. Since the residences were closed to the public, employees are the only ones who have entered and left the centers. They are potential transmitters of the pathogen to the most vulnerable, who are cleaned and fed daily.
The photos were uploaded to Facebook by a Las Camelias employee who praised his company for “making a recognition for the good work.” Other colleagues made encouraging comments: “Say yes, we are a great team and we are worth a lot.”
When Las Camelias family members discovered the photos on Facebook this week, they found it disrespectful. They have not been able to see their elders in person since March 9, when the Community of Madrid prohibited visits. Others mourn the recent loss of a resident parent or grandfather. According to the information leaked by the workers to the families, about 80 of the 226 residents who were at the beginning of the pandemic have died from possible covid-19. In an interview published this week, Jiménez say they had 20 deaths in the most critical week.
Pedro Fernández, who lost his father on April 15, is deeply offended. “They have no shame. How can you celebrate absolutely nothing around 80 dead? “He says.
The employee deleted the post with the photos after a relative complained to the company.
Bastón de Oro, a Catalan group with six homes for the elderly, defends that the celebration in Las Camelias was a sign of gratitude to all the staff for their work during the health crisis. The director of the legal department, Miquel Bonet, affirms in an email that the workers have been “attending to elderly residents infected with covid-19 for 11 hours a day with overalls, glasses and PPE, which is a commendable job for the staff of the company, sweating all day ”.
“Likewise, this celebration was held when it was possible to solve and stabilize the situation of the elderly in the Las Camelias residence, which has already entered a normal situation,” he adds.
According to industry sources, the residences have tried to prevent their employees from eating together. In the absence of an official protocol, the centers have been guided by common sense. There are companies that have directly closed the dining rooms, others have ordered that they eat at most two by two. “It is about adapting the general rules and recommendations to the concrete of a work canteen, such as guaranteeing social distance … and that leads to staggering food shifts, cleaning of common items, single-use utensils,” says Ana González, Secretary of Social Policy and Diversity of Comisiones Obreras Madrid.
In Fernández’s opinion, the party in Las Camelias is a reflection of the bad management that the center has done. Las Camelias was denounced to the Prosecutor’s Office on March 31 by the Madrid family association Pladigmare, which indicates that it did not comply in time with the obligatory division of the residence into areas, according to the symptoms of the residents.
Fenández complains about poor organization, lack of information and unpleasant treatment: “It has been a nonsense from the beginning.”
Do you know cases of irregularities in residences in the Community of Madrid during the coronavirus crisis? Contact the reporters [email protected] or [email protected] or text them on Twitter @FernandoPeinado or @jdquesada
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