Two more Newmarch House staff have tested positive for COVID-19, raising the total to 61 cases (24 staff and 37 residents).
NSW Health has deployed two infection control nurses to the facility to review its procedures.
“We’ve clearly seen transmission that on the surface looks like there’s been breaches in infection control amongst particularly the staff,” NSW chief medical officer Kerry Chant said.
“And that’s obviously a concern. There have been some elements where consistent application of infection control practice has not occurred.”
It was acknowledged by the state’s Health Minister Brad Hazzard that some staff may not have known how to properly use personal protective equipment (PPE) -masks and gowns.
If PPE is not put on or taken off correctly this has the potential to cause fatal consequences.
“It requires meticulous, consistent adherence to processors to ensure that you don’t get transmission,” says Dr Kerry Chant.
What measures are in place to protect other residents?
There are reported to be 40 or so residents still living in the home COVID-19 free.
These residents have the choice of being cared for either in the facility through hospital in the home or being treated in Nepean Hospital, depending on their own advance care directive, according to NSW Health.
While the responsibility for residential aged care centres rests with the Federal Government, Nepean Hospital is providing specialist medical care 24/7.
A doctor attends to COVID-19-positive residents daily during the week, and there is a doctor on call after hours.
A nurse practitioner also undertakes regular reviews of patients’ health status and vital signs remotely from Nepean Hospital throughout the day.
Nepean Hospital’s Infection Control Service is also providing support around the facility’s infection control procedures, and staff and residents are being re-tested regularly.
NSW Health is urging people with symptoms, including mild symptoms, to be tested to ensure as many cases in the community are identified as quickly as possible.
Anglicare Sydney’s response
“Anglicare Sydney advises that unfortunately a further two staff members have tested positive to COVID-19 yesterday.
“This is despite us having strict procedures and enforced infection control practices in place. We are investigating further as to how this occurred and we continue to work closely with the NSW Public Health Unit on this.
“Additional positive cases associated with Newmarch House are very distressing for our staff, our residents, and their families.
“We are very appreciative of the support being provided by the Commonwealth and NSW Governments and by the Aged Care sector more broadly.
“We are further improving our pastoral care for residents and their families by offering access to Anglicare Sydney’s counselling and chaplaincy services as well as continuing the successful window visits between residents and families.
“Additionally, Anglicare Sydney was relieved to hear that the outbreak of COVID-19 at Dorothy Henderson Lodge has now been dealt with. This gives us great hope that we will overcome this devastating virus at Newmarch House.”
Image source: istock licence – the image does not depict real people in the home.