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AP Madrid exposes failings at ravaged care home

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The Usera Center for the Elderly in Madrid, Spain, May 13, 2020. Workers at the Usera nursing home have spoken about cost cutting and staff cuts at the Madrid nursing home where 42 people died. – AP Photo / Bernat Armangue

Madid staffers Aritz Parra, correspondent; Bernat Armangue, photographer; and Iain Sullivan gained the trust of relatives and workers to expose long-standing cost-cutting and questionable decisions made at a Madrid nursing home that became a flash point when the Spanish army found the body of an 84-year-old resident locked in his room at the height of the virus outbreak.

After AP’s quick and comprehensive reporting on that initial spot story – with AP ahead of Spanish media in identifying families and confirming key details – Parra and the team were able to talk to more relatives of residents who had died, as well as workers from the care home. What they told him was deeply problematic. The 160-bed nursing home had seen widespread cost cutting for years and management made a series of questionable decisions during the crisis: The facility’s top doctor admonished workers for weeks not to wear masks and allowed six crucial days to pass before complying with a government order to separate the sick from the healthy.

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