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The 12 days of ‘Operation Bug’ – The Madrid region’s disastrous plan to save its senior residences

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Based on documents, messages and audio recordings, EL PAÍS has reconstructed how the regional government put the lives of elderly care home residents in the hands of an inexperienced company chief during the peak of the coronavirus crisis in Spain

On March 26, the premier of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, announced an action plan to curb coronavirus contagion in the region’s senior residences. By the time the Popular Party (PP) leader had made the announcement, 1,130 nursing home residents had already died from Covid-19. Hours later, the so-called “Operación Bicho,” or Operation Bug, got underway. This was the code name used by the person who, without any relevant experience, was tasked with protecting the health of nearly 50,000 seniors. That person was Encarnación Burgueño.

Burgueño is the self-appointed managing director of Cardio Líder, a trading name that is not properly registered as a company. On the same day as Díaz Ayuso’s announcement, Burgueño was placed at the helm of the regional health department’s response to the crisis. This consisted of providing medical assistance in senior care homes, instead of transferring patients to hospital.

Burgueño did not have doctors or ambulances or knowledge of healthcare management, but thanks to her father’s contacts she was given the opportunity of her dreams: the chance to run a company in the lucrative health sector. Encarnación Burgueño is the daughter of the former managing director of hospitals in the Madrid region, Antonio Burgueño, whom Díaz Ayuso had tasked with coordinating the health sector’s response to the pandemic. Antonio Burgueño is also the mastermind behind the privatization of Madrid’s healthcare system.

EL PAÍS has had access to dozens of documents and audio recordings with the details of the chaotic and glaringly insufficient plan to “medicalize” senior homes in Madrid, a plan that lasted just 12 days.

The initiative came to an abrupt end on April 6, when EL PAÍS revealed that Encarnación Burgueño was leading the crisis response in Madrid’s senior homes. By the time the brakes were suddenly put on the plan, more than 4,200 seniors had already died in the region’s nursing homes.

Two healthcare workers on Sunday at the Transamed headquarters
David Expósito Two healthcare workers on Sunday at the Transamed headquarters

Encarnación Burgueño, 50, directed “Operation Bug” from lockdown in her home. Not once did she set foot in a nursing home. She persuaded the head of a private ambulance company, Transamed, to be part of the plan. She sent the firm a paid contract by email “for the integral management of the Covid-19 crisis in social and healthcare centers in the Madrid region.” The contract was signed digitally by a senior official in the regional health department, Carlos Mur de Víu, the then-head of social and healthcare services coordination.

Four Transamed ambulances visited nearly 200 of the 475 residences in Madrid in two weeks, following the instructions given by Burgueño, who in turn received guidelines from Mur de Víu.

It was not “one-off support” as the regional health department claimed after EL PAÍS exposed Burgueño’s role in the operation. For 12 days, until April 6, Transamed health workers were the first and only outside medical assistance received by thousands of senior care residents in that time. This is according to dozens of documents showing the details of the visits, signed and stamped by Transamed, as well as by representatives of Madrid’s nursing homes. The head of Transamed, Eduardo Esteban Aragonés, has shown EL PAÍS proof of what the regional government’s much-vaunted “medicalization” of nursing homes really consisted of.

“At no time was an outside doctor from Summa [Madrid’s emergency health service] or primary doctor there before us,” says Aragonés. “The care homes told us that they were calling for help but no one turned up.”

Continued…Read full original article…

Source: El País

Original publication Original Date

Posted on NatCorn 25th June 2020

Reference to an article does not infer endorsement of any views expressed.

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