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People who need full care, such as my roommate, sometimes had to wait until half past ten in the morning until they got out of bed for a moment and had breakfast.

People who need full care, such as my roommate, sometimes had to wait until half past ten in the morning until they got out of bed for a moment and had breakfast.

Those who were in quarantine were not refilled.

How did that affect everyday life? People who need full care, such as my roommate, sometimes had to wait until half past ten in the morning until they got out of bed for a moment and had breakfast. Normally the day shift starts at seven, then the people are cared for and mobilized, then breakfast is served. But in the area where I am accommodated there are 60 residents who now takes care of all of them?

How was that with your roommate? Maria is 72, she has cancer, sometimes she is better, sometimes worse, she is a palliative patient. In the morning, when she had a dry mouth, I gave her something to drink, but I did that before. But when suddenly there was room quarantine, I took over almost everything for Maria: I went with her to brush her teeth, smeared her face, massaged her back because she simply needs it.

Because the staff asked you to? No, for me, and for good reason: I took over at a time when it was not yet known which of the employees was Covid positive and who was not. I just wanted to protect her and make sure that she has as little contact as possible with unprotected personnel.

So you’ve been taking care of Maria since the room quarantine? Yeah right. I also gave her the medication, I helped her eat and drink, and kept disinfecting her hands.

And neither you nor your seriously ill roommate have ever been tested for corona? Yes, but not until April 14th. And imagine: I was negative, but Maria, she was positive.

And then? Then it was moved to the front wing, the passage there was blocked with a chain so that the residents could not march through. There are many demented residents here who cannot understand what room quarantine actually means and just want to stroll around a bit who just don’t know their way around. I hope Maria is fine, I haven’t seen her since. To reassure myself, I keep telling myself: Maria, despite everything, is a woman standing up.

What about you? Despite a negative initial test, weren’t you afraid that Maria might have infected you? I said, I want to be tested again because I was in constant contact with her, luckily this test ended up being negative. Fortunately – because I am a high-risk patient: I unfortunately suffer from the chronic lung disease COPD, and I have diabetes

A little digression: you are only 54 years old, why are you actually in a nursing home? It was in the evening, I was on my way to the bedroom, it was only a small step – I fell unhappy. My patellar tendon was broken, so my knee had let me down. I was alone in the apartment, waiting for help for three hours. It wasn’t until much later, after a magnetic resonance scan, that five lumbar vertebrae, one tail vertebrae and three thoracic vertebrae were broken. The consequences hit me so hard that I ended up in a wheelchair. I’ve been in the nursing home for two years, I only had an operation last December, and now I can at least walk a little again with the rollator.

You mentioned at the beginning that you were a home nurse yourself … I was a nursing assistant at a non-profit organization, and I have more than 20 years of experience in the nursing profession. So I know how it should actually be in nursing homes. There are people who do it with their hearts, they like to do it. When dealing with older people, it is very, very important how you talk to them, whether you can listen, that is all part of it, and suddenly …

…there is room quarantine. As a carer, do you have a glimpse of how this affected your elderly roommates? You have to understand an old person who wants to know: How long does it take, when will it finally be over? Partly the reaction was: what if something happens to me when I die and I no longer see my children or my husband? This is a pervasive fear here. Those who have already died could no longer see their relatives. If you need physical help in old age but are still clear in your head, you can get along with most things. But if you can no longer defend yourself and are dependent on others, you are partially helpless. And delivered. And it’s not a nice feeling when you see this helplessness. As a resident, you can never say to the nurse: “Take a protective mask so that you don’t cough on me.” You’re passed out.

And basically locked up? Yes, but I understand because I can think clearly. You can see how those who cannot express themselves are suffering.

There used to be bingo on Wednesdays, then there was a wheelchair or walker course and snap tournaments. Last year I became schnapps queen, as a real Styrian you can do it very easily. Now it is no longer even possible to activate the residents’ resources. Due to the shortage of staff, care had to be neglected.

With someone with your medical history, whose roommate tested positive – that must be a pretty creepy mental cinema? I’ve said to myself over and over again: No, I can’t get this because I can’t get it – my positive thinking and trying to protect myself has helped me a lot. Which, of course, weighed heavily on me: so many people died within a very short time, twelve in all – within about 14 days. Six of them had previously tested positive for Covid, with the others you cannot tell whether they had Corona. A total of 39 more were positive in mid-April. In the beginning, only those who got a sore throat or who had temperature and cough were tested.

The criminal investigation department is now investigating on the basis of your report. Upon request, the management of the home informs us that “for reasons of data protection, we are not allowed to provide any information about illnesses or causes of death of our residents”. Where did you get your information from? I am one who asks if she wants to know something. I’m good with everyone, it works. And excuse me for saying this so clearly: I’m one of those in here who can still think very clearly. I can be a nuisance and ask around.

According to a report by the “Steirerkrone”, a woman in your home is said to have suffocated on her napkin these days. Did you know her? Yes, I knew them well. She often sat with me on the terrace, she loved having a snack. If I didn’t like something, she always asked me: “Who does this belong to?” And I said: “Now it’s yours!”

Did you know some of the deceased better? Yes of course. In spite of her age, one lady was an outspoken beauty, she went to the hairdresser’s every week and did her makeup, she was so fun-loving. Another, who used to be in the armed forces, who suffered badly from Parkinson’s, he always came up to me, sat down next to me – then I rolled the dice with him until he got up again and walked on. Then there was a lady who was blind, but who still took part in all group activities, be it bingo, be it bowling – they all died of Corona these days.

How do you feel when you think about the fact that these people might all still be alive? I was really shocked. I went out on the terrace, lit a candle for everyone and prayed for them. I’m strong, but sometimes you need something to hold on to. And one more thing: Despite everything, I would like to thank the employees who do their job here in such difficult times.

The article originally appeared in the print edition of News (17/20)!

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Marina Hoermanseder has apparently leased the success for herself. Stars like Lady Gaga or Kylie Jenner wear the creations of the 32-year-old designer from Austria. She was also allowed to make the work clothes for the AUA and the post office. Now she is starting a new TV show. In an interview she reveals how hard she works for her career, what her father has to do with it and why her boyfriend has nothing to say when deciding where to get married. What does a classic working day look like for you? Marina Hoermanseder: The exciting thing about me is that I don’t have a classic working day. In fact, since I started my own business, I’ve never gotten around to sitting down to plan and think strategically through everything.

How can we imagine this concretely? Everything always has to be ready by the day after tomorrow – everything happens at the last moment. For example, at 4 p.m. I get the order that Nicki Minaj needs a new corset for her video, which will be shot the day after tomorrow. We sit there all night to be ready in time.

© Stefan Kraul

Most people probably don’t imagine it to be that stressful … Many believe that I sit in front of my drawing pad all day and design fashion with the charcoal pencil. But it actually involves a lot of administrative work and personnel management. It is very important to me that all employees are doing well. We have a classic start-up culture.


How many people do you currently employ? We are a team of 16 people. We’ve been more than that. But now we are at a size that I can handle well. Because management tasks demand a lot.

You have already designed workwear for the AUA and Swiss Post. How do you land an order like that? I was simply asked. An email comes in – and then you have to come to an agreement. At the post office, the materials were advertised, but my service was not.


Which is more important: good marketing or innovative designs? It is a combination of both factors. This is not only the case with fashion. Just having good marketing for a bad product is not an option. On the other hand: Having a really good product that you cannot show is also unsuccessful. If I had to express it in percent, I would say: 60 percent design and 40 percent marketing.

Her father has long been the CEO of Mayr-Melnhof Karton, a successful, listed Austrian company. How does his network help you? Network always helps. Of course, he doesn’t have the phone numbers of all the star stylists and creative directors from the fashion industry on his phone. But the fact that his business contacts know my name and that I am his daughter can be an advantage for me.

»My family name is associated with competence«

Your reputation precedes you, so to speak. My family name gives me a certain attribution of competence in people who normally do not have much to do with the fashion industry. This connection point can certainly generate interest in my products.

Do you sometimes have to expose yourself to allegations that only vitamin B made it to success? For me it’s not a reproach. The fact is: I was brought up to be incredibly success-oriented. If the influence of my parents hadn’t shaped me, I wouldn’t be working day and night to achieve my professional goals. Of course there are a lot of good designers who didn’t get the start-up help from their father, like me – but I’m not ashamed of it. It would be worse if you didn’t do anything with the opportunities you get from life.

»I’m not ashamed of my father’s help to get started« ©

So you’ve earned your success? I’ve worked very hard for it. My father wouldn’t have supported me if he hadn’t seen that I was serious. He wouldn’t have funded flirtation or occupational therapy. My father’s ultimatum was also to study economics. In retrospect, I’m very grateful to him for that. His support goes way beyond money.

How can you imagine that? My father is the first person I call when I need business advice or when a big decision is made in the company. It does happen that I call him twelve times a day. He has an incredible wealth of experience due to his many years of leadership. He can explain things to me, calm me down. It’s worth a lot more than all the money in the world.

“Marina, shake off like a wet dog!”

Which of his tips have you shaped? One of my father’s motto is: “The master shines in the scarcity of resources”. That comes up when I’m missing something in the young company. And then he likes to say: “Per aspera ad astra” (literally: “Through the rough to the stars”) – the Latin phrase means: “Rough paths lead to the stars”. Or if there was any incident, he simply says: “Marina, shake off like a wet dog!”. And go on.

And what did your mother give you to take along? I learned from my mother that a woman can be a “woman” and at the same time be incredibly productive. She wouldn’t go to the grocery store without red lipstick. She wears high heels as slippers – no joke. But at the same time she can really tackle her work. She’s not afraid of getting her fingers dirty in my studio. She supports me a lot.

“It’s my first job for television that has nothing to do with fashion.”

What projects are you currently working on? I’ve been in Austria for four weeks now because I was shooting a TV show. It starts on April 3rd on ProSieben Austria. And I’m really looking forward to that. It’s the first time I’ve got a television job without my fashion expertise.

What is the new TV show about? It’s called “Design Dreams” and I take care of people’s interior problems on the show.