Thirteen people died in less than a month after the coronavirus broke into a Wrexham nursing home.
The virus hit Hillbury Care Home, part of the Pendine Park group, a few days before Christmas, killing 13 residents.
Cindy Clutton, the house’s manager, said she and her team were “completely devastated” by the tragic tribute and believed the new strain of the virus caused the outbreak.
She said: “I’ve been working in social work since I was 16. This is my life. I’ll never get over it. I’m totally broken.
“The staff is also completely devastated. Unlike a hospital where people are usually in and out in a few weeks or less, you build a very close connection with the residents.
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“They are like members of your extended family and we are privileged to provide them with care in their twilight years.”
After being “quite weak” at home after contracting the virus herself, Mrs. Clutton has now recovered and returned to work.
She added: “It does not make it easier for those who have died to have underlying health problems. When you have people as fragile as this, the odds are against them.
“We did not lose anyone until December 18 and then we had the worst Christmas ever when we faced unprecedented pressure. Christmas will never be the same again.
“Fortunately, many of the residents have recovered and life is slowly returning to normal, with parties, music and laughter.”
She added: “I have a great team that has been heroic in the fight against this deadly virus and we are determined to return Hillbury to what it has always been – a place where people can come together as a community to enjoy life.
“The support of the families was deeply emotional and overwhelming. They are constantly in our thoughts because they are part of the extended Hillbury family. We also mourn their loss.
“Due to the huge challenges of self-isolating staff due to the high prevalence of the virus in Wrexham, the support of the Wrexham Department of Social Services and environmental health officers, local family doctors and, in particular, district nurses , it was huge.
“The Hillbury family will never forget the support and wishes we have received. It was pretty amazing, especially at Christmas. “
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She added: “Anyone who thinks this virus is not a real and deadly threat should change places with me and see how quickly and aggressively it can spread through a nursing home or a community like Wrexham.
The fact that the virus has spread so quickly suggests that this terrible new strain of the disease is much more transmissible.
Director Gill Hughes, head of Pendine Park, added: “As an organization, Pendine Park has put its heart and soul into protecting the residents we care for, so the scale and severity of the loss at Hillbury is truly heartbreaking.
“The fact that the staff has kept the virus so far away is a testament to the dedication and tenacity of the team led by Cindy, which has spared no effort in the fight against this horrible disease and continues to do everything in their power to protect people in their care. . “
Lawrence Isted, on behalf of the Wrexham Council incident management team, which is currently dealing with the outbreak at Hillbury Care Home, said: “It is with great sadness that we can confirm that 13 Hillbury Care Home residents have died from Covid- 19 in the last days.
“We send our sincere condolences and sympathies to family, friends, residents and home staff.
“We have met regularly since the outbreak was first confirmed to bring it under control and we will continue to offer our support during this difficult time.
“We are confident that all precautions have been taken to prevent the further spread of the infection in the home, and the safety of residents and staff remains a top priority for all.”
Ms Clutton said her staff had struggled to keep the virus out of Hillbury since early March.
During the summer, they managed to contain an outbreak without loss of life when five people contracted the disease, she said.
She said they have also invested in additional PPE, built handwashing and temperature checking stations for staff and organized specialist training courses.
She said the priority now is to care for the remaining 40 Hillbury residents and keep them safe and well.
It is the latest major outbreak at a North Wales nursing home in the last month, with 21 residents dying from Covid to Fechan House in Llangollen.
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