St Basil’s inquest: Androula Aristudou breaks down as she reveals dying mum’s last words

Anthony PiovesanNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: Supplied

A woman’s last words to her family were “I got pains, I got pains” before she died as part of the St Basil’s Covid-19 outbreak, a coronial inquest has been told.

Androula Aristudou broke down in tears when she explained to the Victorian coroners court on Monday the circumstances leading up to her mother’s death in July last year.

She described the last time she spoke with her mother, which was on a FaceTime call, where she saw the 98-year-old lying in bed.

“She get up and she look at me and say, ‘I got pains, I got pains’, and I keep asking, ‘Mum what is the pains you got?’” Ms Aristudou said.

“She couldn’t hear me and I keep saying ‘please tell the nurse where are your pains to help you’, but this is the last words I hear from my mum.”

St Basils Removing Residents
Camera IconFive residents at the centre died of neglect while 45 died of Covid-19. Andrew Henshaw Credit: News Corp Australia

Prior to that, the last time she saw her mother was via an in-person appointment at the nursing home, where they spoke they spoke from a distance.

“The poor thing, when she see us she was reaching out to grab us, to hug us,” Ms Aristudou said.

“Then after she say, ‘I am in jail’ … it was very difficult, we’ve been through a lot.”

Five residents at the centre died of neglect, while 45 died of Covid-19 in one of the country’s deadliest outbreaks at an aged care home.

The centre recorded its first positive Covid-19 case on July 9 before St Basil’s staff were then furloughed and replaced by the commonwealth’s Aspen Medical agency workers on July 22.

Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton made the call to stand down St Basil’s staff.

Ms Aristudou told the court that her mother had been transferred to hospital twice in the space of just one week.

The first time was after July 17 when St Basil’s staff told Ms Aristudou that her mother had tested positive to Covid-19.

She was transferred to St Vincent’s Hospital, but Ms Aristudou told the court that hospital staff called her to ask about her mother’s medications.

Hospital staff also told Ms Aristudou that her mother was asymptomatic, the inquest was told.

“They sent mum with no medication chart, they tell the hospital mum got fever and headache, but when the hospital ring me they tell me mum doesn’t have any symptoms,” Ms Aristudou said.

Her mother returned to St Basil’s on July 19 and Ms Aristudou was told by staff that her mother was “eating, drinking and walking with her frame in the hallway”.

But despite her improved condition, the home then contacted Ms Aristudou on July 24 to inform her that her mother needed to be transferred to hospital again the next morning for “better care”.

MELBOURNE NURSING HOMES
Camera IconStaff remove medical waste from St Basil's Home for the Aged at Fawkner. NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw Credit: News Corp Australia

Ms Aristudou told the court that she rang the centre countless times on July 25 to find out where her mother had been moved but was always told to “call back”.

It was only when she called the Epworth hospital directly that she found out mother was staying there.

“The nurse tell me mum was very confused, very weak and that she couldn’t talk,” Ms Aristudou said.

Her mother died the next day on July 26.

“After she passed they (the nurse) call me and she explained the nurses and the doctors were shocked because it was so quick,” Ms Aristudou said.

“They didn’t expect mum to pass because she didn’t have any symptoms. Even the doctor, they told me she didn’t even need any medication to help her because she didn’t have any symptoms.

“Because of this weakness she didn’t eat. When she arrived at the hospital she was thirsty, she was very hungry, starving … she couldn’t talk.”

St Basils Removing Residents
Camera IconThe first Covid-19 case was recorded at St Basil's on July 9. Andrew Henshaw Credit: News Corp Australia

The last three paragraphs of Ms Aristudou’s statement was read out to the court. She described the “level of neglect was at another level” once the government took over operations at St Basil’s.

“Not even animals should be treated like this,” Counsel assisting Peter Rozen QC read out.

“The level of care that was received at St Basil’s was very poor and was very disturbing. Due to such an advanced country. I would never thought this would happen.”

The five-week coronial inquest into the deaths of residents at St Basil‘s will hear from about 65 witnesses, including nurses, centre managers and family members of the loved ones who died.

Originally published as St Basil’s inquest: Androula Aristudou breaks down as she reveals dying mum’s last words

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