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St Basil’s inquest: Death was ‘manslaughter’ victim’s daughter tells court

A Melbourne woman believes her mother’s death from the coronavirus outbreak at St Basil’s aged care facility was a form of “manslaughter”, a court has been told.

Maxine Tsihlakis told a coronial inquest into the deaths of 50 residents at the Fawkner facility on Friday that she believed her mum Georgia Mitsinikos’ death was a form of “manslaughter”.

Her mum died in hospital from coronavirus on July 23, three days after Ms Tsihlakis was told that she had tested negative to the highly contagious disease.

“No Maxine, if your mother is positive staff will contact you. Georgia is negative at this stage,” facility manager Vicky Kos told her in an email read out in court.

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Camera IconMaxine Tsihlakis holds a photograph of her mother Georgia Mitsinikos who died from coronavirus she contracted from St Basil's. Ian Currie Credit: News Corp Australia

Ms Tsihlakis was also frustrated that staff members were still working when they tested positive to coronavirus.

“Why are these people are still working here, they should have been home,” she said.

Ms Tsihlakis told the court that she was disappointed with the care her mother received at the facility before the pandemic. Ms Mitsinikos moved into St Basil’s after a van struck her in 2018 and left her with injuries.

Ms Tsihlakis told the court that staff were “run off their feet” and she took her mother to a GP for a review because of all the extra medication she was on. She discovered the medications included sedatives.

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When she and her brother visited her mum during the pandemic, Ms Tsihlakis told the court that she didn’t see staff members wearing masks.

The family picked the facility because there were residents of Greek background and they believed her mum could socialise, Ms Tsihlakis said on Friday.

Her evidence came before Victoria’s human services director Naveen Tenneti offered his sympathy to the families of victims.

Covid Melbourne
Camera IconA coroner is investigating 50 deaths at the St Basil's Home for the Aged in Fawkner during a coronavirus outbreak. NCA NewsWire / David Crosling Credit: News Corp Australia

Dr Tenneti told the Coroners Court that he was involved in “nearly every significant case or outbreak” in the state.

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“All those decisions weigh on me, just as every patient I treated in a clinical setting weigh on me,” he said.

“That weight obviously can’t match the experience of a loved one and I express my deep sympathies to them.”

Dr Tenneti was quizzed about the delay between testing and notifying the relevant commonwealth bodies between July 12 and 14.

“It’s my contention that it was the reality of that time and the stress and the load that led to a situation where there wasn’t an escalation (for testing) between the 12th and 14th,” Dr Tenneti told the court.

Testing did occur on July 15, the court was told.

It came days after a worker, who seeded the virus into the home, tested positive on July 9.

The inquest continues in front of State Coroner John Cain and is expected to run for five weeks.

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