Inquest begins into the deaths of 19 residents at Anglicare Sydney’s Newmarch House during COVID-19

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An inquest, expected to last three weeks, is investigating the deaths of 19 aged care residents at Anglicare Community Services’ Newmarch House in Kingswood, Penrith, 55km west of Sydney’s CBD, during the early outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement delivered at the inquest, Anglicare offered its “sincere condolences” to those who lost loved ones, acknowledging the work of staff at the home during the outbreak. 37 of 97 residents contracted COVID at Newmarch House in April 2020 and 19 people died as a result of what was then NSW’s largest aged care COVID outbreak.

A NSW Health representative said the Ministry “acknowledges the devastating impact” of the outbreak on residents, families and staff.

“The loss of 19 lives was tragic; the tragedy was made worse by the lack of effective communication,” the statement read.

An independent review commissioned by the Department of Health has already been conducted into the COVID-19 outbreak at Newmarch House, and can be read here.

The inquest is examining what occurred during a 65-day outbreak at Newmarch House from April to June of 2020.

Deputy state coroner Derek Lee said the inquest would seek to determine whether the circumstances provided an “opportunity to learn, to change and to improve with broader considerations in mind”.

“Whilst an inquest necessarily looks back in time, it does so with a forward-thinking focus,” he said.

“These broader considerations have particular significance in light of the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic at an individual level and at broader organisational levels.”

Watch the inquest live here and replay proceedings.