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'My dad died in a care home and we were not told about his Covid-19'

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Vivienne McNally with a photo of her father Dominic, who died in April

Vivienne McNally with a photo of her father Dominic, who died in April

Vivienne McNally with a photo of her father Dominic, who died in April

The family of a man who died in a nursing home which they claim did not inform them he had Covid-19, is calling for an inquiry into the institution.

Dominic McNally (80) passed away in the Dealgan Nursing home in Dundalk, Co Louth, in April.

Several TDs have backed a call by the McNally family, as well as several other families who lost loved ones in Dealgan, for an inquiry into the management of the outbreak there.

"Since our father's death, we have just felt that his loss has just been written off," said his daughter Vivienne.

"I get the feeling that because he was elderly and he was in a home it's a case of, 'Oh well sure he was going to die anyway'.

Loved

"That's not the way to look at the life of someone who was loved dearly. Then we have all the other questions of us being allowed in to the home when there was Covid in there.

Vivienne described visiting for his 80th birthday and knowing something wasn't right.

"I hadn't seen him in weeks and the pictures… well a blind man could see," she said.

"He was like someone on their death bed and that's the truth of it. I was shocked, absolutely shocked."

Mr McNally, was a father-of-six and one-time prize-winning runner. Visitor restrictions at the home had been imposed on March 6 and residents were being kept inside and apart from family as a precaution.

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The father and daughter together

The father and daughter together

The father and daughter together

On March 31, the first two suspected Covid-19 cases in Dealgan House Nursing Home became known. The first confirmation of a positive case was on April 4.

Emails alerting relatives to the outbreak, seen by the Herald, were sent to next of kin on April 5 by Eoin Farrelly, the owner. Letters were posted on April 6 to those who did not have access to email, which included Dominic's wife, Angela.

By April 10, three residents had tested positive, with several others showing symptoms.

Mr Farrelly, in a written update, said that test results were "very slow" coming back.

From early April, leading up to her father's birthday on April 13, Vivienne said it was a "daily struggle" to get updates.

On April 15, Vivienne said she met someone who asked her did she know two people had died earlier in the morning at Dealgan from Covid-19.

"I couldn't believe it," she said."I said, 'Are joking me?"

The following day, the family got a call from the nursing home to inform them that their father had taken a bit of a turn.

"I thought, 'Oh my God this is it'. I was in bits the with the shock of it," said Vivienne.

According to Dealgan nursing home, Mr McNally "was receiving end of life care and became noticeably weaker on that afternoon of April 16. The nurse judged he was dying and informed his wife, Angela".

According to the home, "in response to a disagreement within the family" the nurse allowed each family member 20 minutes with Mr McNally.

The family members not in the room sat outside in the garden at the window.

Exposed

However, Vivienne McNally denies the suggestion that a disagreement led to each family member being allowed into the room rather than just one.

She claimed they were never told he had Covid.

No one who spent time in the room with Mr McNally tested positive for the virus, but Vivienne feels they were exposed to unnecessary risk.

"We never should have been allowed in there," she said. "We were told our father didn't have Covid, that there was no Covid in that part of the home, that it was fine. It wasn't fine."

Dealgan said: "All families knew that visiting was not allowed." It denied residents were put at risk by visitors being able to walk around freely.

"Dominic had displayed no symptoms of Covid-19 but it was explained to the family that a risk still existed and that they should maintain social distance and wash hands on entering and leaving the room," it said.