An inquest has heard that a nurse who died after contracting the coronavirus was caring for a patient days before he developed symptoms of the virus. Alexis Ann Adshead of Gilfach Hoch died on 23 April 2020. Working as a nurse at the Tai Eireen Shelter in Gilfach Goh at the time, Mrs. Adshead, 58, first noticed Covid symptoms on Thursday, April 2, 2020.

Other patients and staff at the home showed coronavirus symptoms days before Edshead first noticed them, including two residents, one of whom Edshead cared for, and a colleague, according to the investigation.

Edshed’s husband, Simon Edshed, said she developed a cough on Thursday that eased slightly the next day. He missed work the following Friday and the following Saturday due to symptoms. However, on Tuesday, April 7, her condition deteriorated and she was taken to the emergency room and given oxygen.

Caretaker who died of covid ‘did not want to disappoint residents’

Edshead was discharged on 8 April, but returned to the hospital the following day, where she developed multi-organ failure and sepsis and was placed on a ventilator. She died in intensive care at Glamorgan Royal Infirmary after the decision was made to place her in end-of-life care. Asthma was recorded as a contributing factor.

Simon and Alexis Edshead

Dr. Elary Davies, currently Deputy Medical Director of Public Health Wales, was Deputy Medical Director at PHW in March 2020. Dr. Davies told the inquiry that, in March 2020, it was believed that symptoms of the coronavirus could appear 48 hours and 28 days after exposure, the time leading up to infection.

The investigation revealed that Ms. Edshead developed symptoms on April 2, 2020 and one resident developed symptoms on March 31, 2020. That resident later passed away from the coronavirus on April 9 of the same year. Mrs. Edshead cared for the patient on March 27 and was “in close proximity” to them, heard the inquest. Asked by the coroner whether the resident was likely infected, Dr. Davies said he couldn’t say whether it was “more likely than not”.

“It is possible because [the resident] symptoms developed on March 31, so he could have developed the infection and contagion on March 27,” he said. Another resident developed symptoms on April 1 and later died of the coronavirus on April 12, 2020, but Dr. Davis said she couldn’t say whether the patient was contagious because she didn’t know when he was infected.

The coworker developed symptoms on March 21, 2020, and the last day that Ms. Edshead worked with them on March 18th. There were 16 days between the possible coronavirus infection and the onset of symptoms in Edshed. Dr. Davies said she “can’t say for sure” whether her colleague was contagious.

“It’s important to note that for these cases to reach a nursing home, they would have spread in the community; therefore, we cannot rule out contacts in the community and other contacts outside the nursing home as possible sources of infection.” Dr. Davis continued.

Alexis Edshead worked at Ty Eirin Asylum in Gilfs of Gohu
Alexis Edshead worked at Ty Eirin Asylum in Gilfs of Gohu

Asked about the relevance of Mr. Edshead developed coronavirus symptoms a day after his wife, Dr. Davies said: “Mr. Edshead could have caught it from Mrs. Edshead”. He added: “People can be infected from a common source […] they could have contracted separately and infected each other, but the timing of symptoms is complicated by self-reporting.”

Dr. Davis said that some people may experience very mild symptoms. He added: “It is extremely difficult to determine the exact time and moments of exposure.” When asked about the degree to which Mr. and Mrs. Edshed shared a source of exposure, given that his symptoms appeared 24 hours apart, Dr. Davies said: “It’s very difficult to say, due to the nature of the self-reported symptoms people have, people may not know it and people react differently to the infection. It doesn’t mean that [with] symptoms reported within 24 hours of each other that the source will be the same. It’s very difficult to define.”

The inquiry heard evidence from Dr. M. Claire Royston, who was the group medical director at Four Seasons Healthcare and the “responsible person” for Ty Eirin, who oversaw his transfer to Harbor Healthcare. Dr. Royston said his last visit to the nursing home before the pandemic was “in early March” and that weekly meetings held as part of the administrative process included discussions about the pandemic.

Asked if she had any concerns about the House’s preparedness for the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Royston said, “No, don’t worry. I would also add that Ty Eirin was a big house and I visited it many times before all this. I clearly remember Tai Erin and Sue. [Bennett, manager of the home] and their team was they were managers and team leaders that I had a lot of respect for.

She added: “It wasn’t a home I would have been worried about in years past. They handled the problems of a major infestation well.” He added that he doesn’t recall Tai Eirin having trouble preparing for the coronavirus or having difficulty obtaining PPE.

The investigation found that staff were required to wear PPE during “barrier care” for a symptomatic patient, but were not required to do so when moving around the house. When the first resident showed symptoms around March 27, Ruth Roman, regional manager
for Harbor Healthcare, He said that in his house there were glasses and protectors provided by the local authorities. At that time, the symptomatic patient was in her room with care.

At the inquest into Edshed’s death on Tuesday, Edshed said his wife “puts residents first” and “wouldn’t dream of disappointing them or not showing up for work”. The investigation is ongoing.

Source: Wales Online