19th May 2020
Re: WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Dear Family and Friends,
This last week served as a reminder that things can change rapidly and how this can come about from the actions of just one person. I am of course referring to the situation that is currently playing out in Rockhampton where a nurse, who is believed to have visited Brisbane and contracted COVID-19, continued to attend work despite having symptoms that were in fact caused by COVID-19.
For those of you that are not aware we have a facility in Yeppoon which is on the coast and within 45 minutes of Rockhampton. We were impacted by this development due to one of the staff members from the affected facility having visited our Yeppoon site just the day before the media confirmed that a nurse working at the State Government run Rockhampton North facility had COVID-19.
I can assure you that our team led by our Care Manager responded well despite the lack of communication from the State Government. Having heard the news (via the media) they quickly conducted their own contact tracing of all visitors from the Rockhampton area and established that there was a possibility of our site having had a visit from an infected person.
This led to a quick response with our outbreak management processes put in place including the use of PPE that we had sourced just in case, placing staff who had come in contact with the person on paid leave until we had a diagnosis, and restricting access to the facility until Monday to give us time to gather more information and find out the results of the COVID-19 tests.
This quick and proactive response ensured the safety of our residents, staff and visitors and we have been able to confirm since that the visitor is not COVID-19 positive. I want to pay tribute to the team at Yeppoon who acted calmly but decisively and worked together to ensure we always put the safety of our residents first.
For those of you that have been waiting to see if the requirement to be vaccinated for influenza prior to entering our facility would be extended we are now able to confirm that it has (https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/view/html/asmade/sl-2020-0075#sec.2). On the 18th of May, the extension of the Declared Public Health Emergency – COVID-19 was published which extended the time frame from the 19th of May to the 17th of August. Therefore, all persons entering our facility must still have an up to date vaccination for influenza if they are able (https://www.health.qld.gov.au/system-governance/legislation/cho-public-health-directions-under-expanded-public-health-act-powers/aged-care).
Having now facilitated visits into our facilities for over a week I am pleased to say that overall the process seems to be working reasonably smoothly albeit there have of course been a few minor hurdles along the way. One aspect of the visits that we do need to re-emphasise is that visitors are expected to maintain social distancing not only from other visitors and staff but also from the person that they are visiting. I appreciate that this is difficult given we all just want to give the person we are visiting a hug however we need to take things one small step at a time and as such I would ask each of you to please abide by the Queensland Health social distancing requirements.
As I have with past updates this update also includes the latest information we have with respect to the number of new cases in the last week and the last two weeks (see Table 1). The trend of no significant increases in the number of cases continues and more importantly there has been no locally acquired infections in the areas in which we operate. As mentioned previously the rows highlighted in yellow are those regions in which we operate a facility and the other highlighted rows are those regions that adjoin a region in which we operate.
Thank you for your continued support and I trust that the information above has been helpful and clear as we all continue to work through these challenging times.
Eric Anderson, CEO.