Aryan care home hit by Covid deaths

Dolly Shange (front right) and Phumlile Mbeje help some of the patients at the Aryan Benevolent Home.PHOTO: MOEKETSI MAMANE
Dolly Shange (front right) and Phumlile Mbeje help some of the patients at the Aryan Benevolent Home.PHOTO: MOEKETSI MAMANE

Six elderly residents of the Aryan Benevolent Home, in Pietermaritz Street, have died after being infected with Covid-19.

Another five patients at the Pie-termaritzburg care facility have also died and staff are waiting for formal confirmation on the cause of death.

Chair of the home, Dev Naidoo, will not be surprised, however, to hear that their deaths were caused by the coronavirus.

The youngest resident to die was 61 and the oldest 103. Four were men and the other seven, women.

Three residents died at the care home, with the remainder dying at Northdale Hospital, Midlands Medical Centre and Mediclinic.

Naidoo said: “What we found with some of those who died is that they had a sudden blockage of the respiratory system and then got very ill, very quickly.”

Before the lockdown, the Aryan Benevolent Home provided a safe haven for 32 residents.

That figure is now down to 21, leaving both staff and the men and women they care for feeling traumatised.

The remaining residents have all been tested for Covid-19. Ten of them are positive, but asymptomatic, and have been placed under quarantine.

No staff have so far tested positive for the virus, but all are anxiously waiting to hear the results.

“The sad thing is that the turnaround for the tests is 14 days or even more because the Department of Health is inundated with work,” said Naidoo.

In the meantime, Msunduzi Municipality has assisted the care home by disinfecting and sterilising the facility.

The worry now for the board of the Aryan Benevolent Home is how to keep things running on an ever-tightening budget.

While it receives a subsidy from the Department of Social Development, the money doesn’t cover all the costs.

“Under normal circumstances the subsidy would cover around 50% of our expenses, but with the pressures of Covid this has dropped to just 20%,” Naidoo said.

To make matters worse the department has not yet paid the July subsidy or the home’s social work subsidy for the last four months.

With funds running low, Naidoo is hoping the people of the city will come to their aid.

“We are encountering a major financial crisis.”

“We are asking for donations of cash or in kind by way of groceries, especially fruit and vegetables.

“We are also asking if people can donate wool and knitting needles to occupy the minds of some of the residents and any recreational games.”

When it comes to medical equipment, the home needs supplies of oxygen, oxygen gauges, portable suction machines, electric blood pressure machines, medication, vitamins, adult nappies and personal protective equipment of all kinds.

“Whilst we empathise with the public with regard to the economic climate, we humbly implore them to find a way of assisting our beleaguered residents, in order to offer them a life of dignity at this institution,” Naidoo said.

“To those who have already donated, we want to express our heartfelt gratitude.”

He added that the home would also be grateful to psychologists in the city who might be able to come and counsel the residents who have been traumatised by the loss of their friends in the close-knit community.

To offer assistance phone Sister Bharosa at 033 394 1337 or Dev Naidoo at 073 347 9633 if you can help.

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