COVID-19 outbreak at hospital

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MORE than 50 staff employed by Peninsula Health have tested positive for COVID-19.

Frankston Hospital has been the hardest hit by the outbreak.

Early last week, Peninsula Health CEO Felicity Topp confirmed that 51 staff members had tested positive for COVID-19 and 211 staff had been sent into isolation. Those numbers were released on 19 August.

“Of the 51 staff cases, 40 are nursing staff, with four doctors having tested positive at this point, along with five support staff members and two Allied Health employees,” Ms Topp said.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic we have tested 54,981 people, 336 of those testing positive. We currently have 48 COVID-19 positive patients in our care, with none of these patients in ICU. We are doing all we can to keep them safe and well.

“We were alerted to an increased number of staff cases at Frankston Hospital on Sunday, and immediately responded by calling in external experts to support our response. We immediately closed a number of wards to admissions and all potentially affected staff and patients were tested. We also started contact tracing to identify anyone else who may have come into contact with an infected person. This process is currently in the final stages.

“We are still investigating if these cases are the result of increased community transmission of the virus, or if it has been acquired through the hospital. We are continuing to stress the importance of the correct usage of personal protective equipment which is readily available to our staff in all of our services and are doing our utmost to help all staff members do all they can to stay safe.”

A statement from the Department of Health and Human services read that “an incident management team is working closely with Peninsula Health to manage this outbreak. All appropriate public health actions are being undertaken, including deep cleaning, contact tracing and testing.”

Ms Topp has stressed that Peninsula Health’s Golf Links Road facility is still accepting patients despite reports of an outbreak.

“There seems to be a misconception that Peninsula Health is currently experiencing an outbreak at our Golf Links Road facility. This is not the case,” she said.

“At the end of July, we did see an increase in cases at our Golf Links Road facility due to a patient initially returning two negative results, and then later a positive result. All appropriate infection control measures were immediately implemented including contact tracing and the furloughing of a significant number of staff at the time. 

“Currently our Golf Links Road facility is open to admissions and we are providing care to a large number of residential aged care patients, in an effort to help in Victoria’s aged care response to the pandemic.”

The Golf Links Road site houses a rehabilitation centre and a palliative care unit.

Heading into the weekend there were 75 active cases of COVID-19 among Frankston residents, and 4421 statewide.

First published in the Frankston Times – 24 August 2020

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