Steve Trimbos says he wishes he had broken down the doors and rescued his parents from St Basil’s nursing home before they both contracted COVID-19.
After migrating to Australia in the 1960s Soula and Ilias Trimbos worked hard to build a home and raise their two sons in Craigieburn.
They died within a week of each other after testing positive for coronavirus at their Fawkner nursing home during Victoria’s second wave outbreak last year.
Steve Trimbos fought back tears in Victoria’s Coroners Court on Thursday, revealing the guilt he feels over their deaths.
“Sorry for not bringing you home – I should have broken the doors down, but they kept telling me you were OK,” he said.
“I’m sorry your last experience of the human race was neglect and stupidity through full PPE gear.”
The couple were two of 45 residents at St Basil’s who died from COVID-19 during Victoria’s second wave of the virus.
Another five residents likely died of neglect.
Mrs Trimbos tested positive on July 12 and was transferred to hospital 12 days later, where her family was told she was one of the sickest patients from St Basil’s.
The family was told Trimbos senior was still testing negative but had been transferred to hospital for his own protection.
Hours later hospital staff told them he had been transferred because he was COVID-19 positive.
“I’ll forever think of them lying on their beds and no one answering their calls,” Steve Trimbos, whose brother took his own life after being traumatised by what happened to their parents, told the inquest.
“I’ll always remember them scared, alone and helpless.
“Please send a strict message to all nursing home providers to keep their services up to date.”
St Basil’s operators Kon Kontis and Vicky Kos on Wednesday refused to give evidence at the inquest on the grounds that they might incriminate themselves.
State Coroner John Cain offered them protection from prosecution based on any evidence they gave, but their barrister Ian Hill QC argued allowing them to take the stand would be a dress rehearsal for a criminal trial.
Judge Cain will decide before Christmas whether the pair must give evidence.