The Italian Police Health Force – Nuclei Antisofisticazione e Sanita (NAS) – has found the homes – the first of 600 to be inspected across the country – violated a range of protocols including failing to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to staff, and to provide a dedicated quarantine space to isolate residents with suspected coronavirus, CNN reports.
NAS says 15 homes have been closed with their residents relocated, while 61 people have been referred to the judicial authorities (because the national lockdown has closed courts, these people will be investigated using best practices with a full judicial process to be carried out once the lockdown is lifted).
Another 157 people linked to aged care homes have been fined a total of 72,000 euros (AUD$123,000).
Italy’s national military police – Italian Carabinieri – have also begun carrying out checks in aged care homes facilities to ensure that visitor access, the management of PPE, staff training and quarantine spaces meet national guidelines, which have resulted in more fines and the closure of at least one facility.
The NAS investigation follows another criminal investigation into the 1,000-bed Pio Albergo Trivulzio home in Milan where 190 deaths have been reported.
“The investigation is underway into what crimes may have been committed in accordance with existing legislation as applied to a pandemic,” Milan’s Public Prosecutor Mauro Clerici said.
No arrests have been made and no one has yet been charged in the case. The home has not made any comments on the investigation, apart to state that the guidelines on using masks were followed and the number of deaths was in line with the same period in 2019.
There is little information about deaths from COVID-19 in Italy’s aged care homes – because the health authorities don’t count deaths in aged care in their official death toll – and there is no standard testing for the virus in homes.
But it appears that operators will be held responsible regardless if the authorities deem them to have breached their duty of care to their residents.