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REDHS Outbreak Over

Visitors were allowed to return to Rochester Elmore District Health Service’s aged care home yesterday for the first time since a November 18 outbreak closed the facility.

The outbreak saw five staff and 10 patients infected, the patients relocated to the acute care ward of the hospital through their infectious period.

REDHS chief executive Karen Laing said visitors started coming through the door at 9.30am yesterday, all staff and patients having completed their isolation period.

“We hadn’t had any cases before this. Our first case was followed by more three or four days later and we were able to act quickly,” she said.

Ms Laing said there were nine patients in the acute care ward, who were relocated to ensure the outbreak was contained.

“Six of those patients went to Kyabram District Health Service and three went home with support services,” she said.

“We did all that in one afternoon.

“That emptied the ward, which allowed us to relocate the COVID patients. Some of them were in their 90s, but they all remained stable during their infectious period.”

She said it ended up being a good news story, but didn’t feel like it at the time.

Residents spent almost two weeks being cared for by staff wearing masks, gowns, gloves and face shields following the detection of a positive staff member on November 18.

Ms Laing said with all staff double vaccinated, and a very high vaccination rate in residents, the positive cases remained relatively well throughout the course of their illness.

“We sincerely appreciate the support of our colleagues at Kyabram, who immediately responded to our request for assistance and have cared for our patients while we managed the outbreak locally,“ she said.

For the duration of the outbreak REDHS Urgent Care Centre has been closed and no visitors have been able to attend the site.

Regular surveillance testing of residents and staff will continue beyond the outbreak and visitor restrictions and precautions will remain in place under Commonwealth directions associated with the pandemic.

“When they return, visitors to aged care will be required to confirm their vaccination status, and unvaccinated visitors will be required to visit in the resident’s room or in the gardens – not in communal areas,” Ms Laing said.

She said visitors must also check in using the displayed QR code and complete the associated attestation.

“This information proved invaluable during the outbreak, as we sought to identify those who had been in contact with COVID positive residents,” she said.

This article appeared in the Campaspe News on Tuesday 14 December 2021.